Nothing says summer like a backyard BBQ – and for most people, nothing goes with BBQ better than beer. But beer is packed with carbs and calories, and too much leads to the dreaded beer belly! This summer, instead of filling the cooler with cans of “the usual,” why not shake things up by creating a custom drink (or drink menu) for your BBQ featuring one of the most healthy and bountiful products of the summer season: berries? You’ll get colorful, refreshing, tasty drinks that will make your next BBQ an event to remember. Plus, instead of the dreaded beer belly, you’ll get a healthy dose of antioxidants and polyphenols – not bad for a cocktail!
Top Berry Drink Recipes for Your Next BBQ
Bonnie Ulmer, bartender at the Royal Street Café in Deer Valley, Utah, suggests mixing blueberries into the classic mojito (a cocktail made from rum, club soda, lime, sugar, and mint). The blueberries add a splash of color to an otherwise somewhat pale cocktail. Tip: Use frozen berries to help keep the drink cool.
Berry Margarita or Daiquiri
Rather than buy a sugar-and-syrup-based margarita or daiquiri mix, simply mix fresh or frozen berries in a blender with some ice and lime. Mix with tequila for margaritas or rum for daiquiris. The taste beats store-bought mixes hands-down, and the color is amazing!
For a tasty – and colorful – take on the classic martini, Scott Campbell and Sam Swarz, who were the Chef/Owner and Bar Manager of @SQC in New York City, mix raspberry and vanilla vodka with chambord or raspberry wine and a blueberry puree. The result is a stunning purple cocktail with a sweet berry kick.
If you want to offer up a non-alcoholic drink, try mixing berries into a classic lemonade recipe (or using frozen berries instead of ice cubes). If you want to offer both “virgin” and “adult” versions, put out two bowls or pitchers and spike one with your favorite spirit (vodka works particularly well). Just make sure the versions are properly labeled!
The Bottom Line
Beer may be a classic, but when it comes to summer drinks, the secret’s out: Berries beat beer. So stock up on some fresh or frozen berries and start mixing and matching with your favorite spirits. The cocktail recipes here are a starting point, but get your creative juices flowing and you never know what tasty drink you might create. Be sure to show them off by serving in clear glasses, pitchers, and bowls so your guests can see the stunning berry colors as well as enjoy the taste. You can find full recipes for all the drinks featured in this article (and several more non-alcoholic options) at www.blueberrycouncil.org.