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Summer Drinks that Pair Well with Barbecue

Summer drinks that pair with barbecue

You can't have barbecue without a beverage. And summer is a great time to embrace some of the lighter liquid options.

Iced tea and light beers like pilsners are classic summer barbecue beverages. But if you're ready to expand your repertoire - and be the host with the most - here are some other options.

Arnold Palmer

The man knew his way around a golf course - and he knew what he liked to drink, too. His eponymous beverage is a mix of iced tea and lemonade, and it's as refreshing as they come. We like it on a hot day, especially with spicier barbecue. You can buy Arnold Palmer premade, mix your own or make the alcoholic version that's often called a back nine. It's lemonade, iced tea and bourbon. You really can't go wrong.

Mint julep

Speaking of bourbon, have you considered a mint julep? Bourbon is always a welcome accompaniment to any barbecue dish. But a nice mint julep is surprisingly awesome with barbecue. The sugar, water, mint and bourbon provide a tasty contrast to smoky meats. And you don't have to go all out - inexpensive bourbon is best since it's really the mint's time to shine.


Mix beer and lemonade. What do you get? You get happy, that's what. Shandy is a classic drink that's easy to make at home but also available bottled from a variety of brewers. We love its simplicity and how the shandy pairs well with just about anything. Our friends at Traeger Grills partnered with Leinenkugel's to create a summer shandy barbecue sauce. We can't wait to give it a try.

Pop / soda / coke

Carbonated drinks taste amazing on a hot day. And a few special ones have long been associated with barbecue. Our friends in Texas swear by Dr. Pepper and 'cue. There are those who claim Coca-Cola is the one true barbecue beverage. And then there's the southern contingent that will only drink red soda with barbecue. Maybe it's strawberry flavored or red cream soda, but this brightly colored drink will make you feel like your barbecue is legit.

Gin and tonic

Have you noticed a theme here? We're all about ease in the summer heat - no drinks that require lots of prep. That brings us to the lowest-maintenance drink of all: the classic gin and tonic. You mix gin and tonic. Boom! It's reliable - but it's also a solid foundation for lots of creative cocktails. You can opt for a fruity gin for a more tropical flavor. Or you can add grilled oranges if you need an excuse to mess around with the grill. A G&T compliments any food and will let your barbecue shine, all year long.


Always a fan favorite, margaritas are especially refreshing in hot weather. And the citrus pairs nicely with barbecue. The classic tequila / lime / Cointreau combination is open to endless personalization, especially if you like smoky nuances. Try a margarita with mezcal instead of tequila. You can also pair the drink with grilled fruit or smoked salt if you want to go all out. We're pretty sure no one will complain about a margarita ever, so experiment until you find your favorite combination. 

No matter what beverages you choose, drink responsibly. And enjoy that barbecue!