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10 Great Cookout Cocktails

Tall and Refreshing Drinks for the Barbecue


One of the great traditions of summer is the cookout. It could be Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, or just some random weekend evening when you invite family and friends over for a little barbecue, backyard games, and simple fun. When it comes to the drinks many people choose the simple options like a cooler full of beer, but if you are looking for a great cocktail or two to serve, here are a few suggestions.

When serving drinks at a cookout there are a few things to keep in mind: simple and easy, tall and refreshing, and, preferably, ready to go. The drinks below fall into most of these categories, with a few requiring just a little more work - mostly a quick muddle - than others, but all are ideal candidates for the backyard or poolside cookout. Also, the majority of these can be made into pre-mixed punches very easily.

I have one other rule with drinking outside that you will notice with these drinks: keep the glass clear and the beverage transparent. It stems from an experience I had years ago involving red wine sangria in a brown goblet and a rather large insect that found it's way into my glass - yes, I drank it and it was not fun. Since that time I have made sure that I can see everything inside my outdoor drinks.

Kyoto Sour

Kyoto Sour Cocktail  - Gekkeikan Sake
Photo Courtesy: © Gekkeikan Sake

Sake and grapefruit are the main flavors of this refreshing cocktail with a surprising kick. No one at your cookout will know that it started out by muddling the fruit with green Tabasco, but they will love the results when sweet agave nectar or Barenjager and a touch of sour are added. It is a well-balanced cocktail with a little bit of every taste profile.

Kyoto Sour recipe...


Charmides Cocktail - Pernod Absinthe Cocktail
Photo Courtesy of: © Pernod Absinthe

The main players in this tall drink are gin and absinthe and they are delightfully enhanced with grapes and ginger syrup. Lemon, bitters, and soda are included to round everything off. This is an intriguing drink and a nice way to subtly introduce the uninitiated to the more delicate mixing potential of absinthe.

Charmides recipe...

Bramble Bar Cocktail

Bramble Bar Cocktail
Photo Courtesy: © Shannon Graham

Scotch is the star of this drink and it here it is paired with apple and lemon juices with an elderflower cordial bringing in an herbal flair. The cocktail becomes a thirst-quenching libation with a little mineral water to finish it up.

Bramble Bar Cocktail recipe...

Hawaiian Iced Tea

Hawaiian Iced Tea
Photo Courtesy: © Shannon Graham

A member of the Long Island Iced Tea family, this tropical version packs the same punch by using five spirits but it swaps out the cola for pineapple juice. If you want to add a little sparkle, just add a splash of soda water as well.

Hawaiian Iced Tea recipe...

El Diablo

El Diablo Cocktail
Photo Courtesy: © Shannon Graham

The snap of this drink comes from the ginger beer that tops off the tequila, creme de cassis, lime combination. It is a fun and easy drink to make and the black currant flavor of the cassis is a nice change of pace from the more often used berries.

El Diablo recipe...

Dutch Green Tea

Dutch Green Tea Cocktail - Sonnema VodkaHERB
Photo Courtesy of: © Sonnema VodkaHERB

An herbal vodka and elderflower liqueur are combined with green tea for this very simple drink. Mix it up in a pitcher to serve a crowd with ease.

Dutch Green Tea recipe...

Rosemary Lemonade

Rosemary Lemonade
Lisa Romerein / The Image Bank / Getty Images

A cookout would not be complete without a great lemonade drink and this is an easy favorite. The mix of reposado tequila, fresh squeezed lemonade, and rosemary-infused ice cubes will be a crowd favorite and can easily be prepared in large batches in advance.

Rosemary Lemonade recipe...

Papaya Smash

Papaya Smash
Photo Courtesy: © Avion Tequila

Papaya and tequila go together like burgers and charcoal and this fun drink is an excellent example. Here we use an anejo tequila, fresh papaya, bitter-sweet orange liqueur, and orange and lime juices to create a very stimulating little cocktail.

Papaya Smash recipe...


Dolomint Cocktail
Photo Courtesy: © Shannon Graham

Pick a good gin to show off in this invigorating cocktail. The botanicals of the gin are enhanced by using Galliano, lime, ginger ale, and fresh mint and it is quite the sprightly drink for warm days.

Dolomint recipe...

Rhubarb Collins

Nolet's Silver Dry Gin Rhubarb Collins Cocktail
Photo Courtesy: © Nolet's Silver Dry Gin

If you have not enjoyed rhubarb in a drink you are missing out on one of the best flavors of summer. A homemade rhubarb syrup and rhubarb bitters are paired with a great gin and lime juice for a very fun and new cocktail that is too much fun to pass up.

Rhubarb Collins recipe...

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