With the start of a busy grilling season upon us, the key to good drinking is often finding something that is easy and refreshing. For many, the idea of weaving cocktails into that equation, especially with large groups, is a daunting prospect that often leads to simply going out and purchasing a sixer of beer instead. But fear not! Here are a few simple tips to making drinks in the great outdoors.
1. Stick to a few simple, but quality, ingredients. Create a menu based around only a few spirits, like gin and bourbon. Use only one fresh juice, like lemon. Make 1:1 simple syrup and base several drinks around it.
2. Be smart with your ice. Always pick up more ice than you need and keep it in a clean bucket on the table for easy access. Also, keep a clean bucket of water nearby for a quick rinsing of shaking tins, strainers and bar gear.
3. Pre-batch drinks for easy pouring. You can combine 2 parts gin, 1 part lemon and a little less than 1 part simple syrup into a pitcher to make a basic sour batch, then add things like mint and a dash of St. Germain prior to shaking with ice. Each drink can be served in under 20 seconds. So there’s more time for hanging out.
4. Glassware vs. plastic. When it comes to a party, anything goes. But keep in mind that while glassware provides for a better experience, it also means potential breakage and a lot more clean-up. Sometimes, using plastic cups is the only way to go for a crowded barbecue. In that case make a shaken cocktail on the rocks, to help keep it cold. Consider short black straws if the glassware or cups are more tall than wide.
5. Don’t get stuck. If you’re the bartender and it’s your party, don’t let the thirsty masses keep you behind the bar the whole time. Another good reason to batch drinks in pitchers in advance.
One of my favorite tequila drinks to make for a summer barbecue is the Tequila Honeysuckle. Traditionally, the Honeysuckle is made with rum (along with fresh lime juice and honey). But for my taste, it’s the perfect choice for any blanco (or “silver”) tequila. I find Sauza, Espolon and Herradura the best bang for the buck, but for a smaller crowd, I might swing for a more premium Patron Silver. Either way, this drink is a sure bet and will have any crowd raving as they sip away.
- 2 ounces Blaco Tequila
- 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
- 3/4 ounces Honey syrup*
- Combine ingredients and shake vigorously with ice for about 10 seconds.
- Strain into chilled coupe glass, if available.
*Honey Syrup is made by combining 3 parts honey and 1 part hot water.