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Best summer cocktails for your backyard bbq

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Easy Summer Drinks for Your Backyard BBQ

May 3, 2019

When summer arrives in SoCal, we take the party outdoors! There’s no better summertime fiesta than the classic backyard BBQ. Whether you plan several weeks in advance or wake up in the morning craving a spontaneous gathering of friends, a little sun-soaked grillin’ and chillin’ is a favorite way to enjoy a summer afternoon.

The best way to beat the heat, and to really get the party started so that it lasts long into the warm summer night is, of course, cocktails! Combine your grilled eats with some spirited drinks, a game or two, and, of course, the backyard BBQ Knockmix, and you’ll never want summer to end.

Here are some recipes for easy summer drinks that’ll keep you and your friends cool, as well as infuse your backyard BBQ party with libations that are fresh, fruity, fizzy, and fun.


1. Blackberry Tequila (or Vodka) Cooler

Tequila is synonymous with summer—and with some killer carne asada on the grill, you’re probably thinking margaritas. But let’s trade the premixed super sweet, store-bought margarita mix for the slightly tart flavor of a succulent, juicy blackberry. This bubbly alternative to the same ol’ tequila drink is bound to liven things up and have your friends wanting more. (Warning: These go down easy!)

Ingredients & Directions

4 – 6 fresh blackberries
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce lime juice
Splash of simple syrup or agave nectar
2 ounces tequila (blanco or reposado)
Top with ginger ale/beer or club soda

1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle blackberries with lemon and lime juices.
2. Add a splash of simple syrup or a quick squeeze of agave nectar.
3. Add tequila and fill the shaker halfway with ice.
4. Shake and strain into a mason jar and top off with ginger ale/beer or club soda.

Tip: Do you have a friend who doesn’t like tequila? No problem! Swap out the tequila and mix it with vodka instead. It won’t disappoint.

Easy summer drinks blackberry tequila cooler
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2. Mango Mojito

When I think about drinking outdoors in the sunshine, I think about two things: a rowdy game of cornhole and sipping on mojitos. If a mojito sounds a little cliché—or passé—try this fresh spin on an old classic (adapted from the Culinary Chronicles food blog). And, if you want to play games, there are other backyard games you could be playing instead of cornhole.

Ingredients & Directions

15 – 20 fresh mint leaves, more for garnish
½ lime, cut into small wedges
2 ounces light rum
3 ounces mango nectar
3 tablespoons diced ripe and fresh mango
2 ounces club soda
1 – 2 cups crushed ice

1. In a shaker, thoroughly muddle the mint leaves and lime wedges with a splash of club soda.
2. Add the light rum and mango nectar, and fill the shaker with ice.
3. Shake and strain into a tall glass. Add the fresh mangoes and mash them in.
4. Add ice to the glass, top with club soda, give it a quick stir, and garnish with additional mint leaves.

Easy summer drinks mango mojito
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3. Spiked Lemonade

Summertime and the living is easy—at least, that’s how the song goes. The cocktails should be easy, too, and with three ingredients, they don’t come much easier than this. Bourbon and whiskey lovers won’t be able to resist this simple combination, but it also works with nearly every liquor: vodka, tequila, gin, or rum. You’re welcome.

Ingredients & Directions

About 1½ ounces Kentucky bourbon or American whiskey
About 4 ounces lemonade
Slice of lemon

Pour ingredients over ice in a rocks glass (to taste) and garnish with a slice of lemon—or, for a slushy-like experience, plug in the blender and blend with ice.

Best summer cocktails spiked lemonade
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4. Traditional Mai Tai

Tricked-out tiki bars are popping up from SoCal to NYC. It’s no surprise why: Tiki drinks are lighthearted, juicy, and tropical, which make them perfect for a backyard BBQ. Unfortunately, they’re also notorious for having a lot of ingredients—with the exception of one: the original Mai Tai, which allegedly means “the best” in Tahitian. The Mai Tai has a long and storied history, and the cocktail was so popular in the 1940s and 1950s that it supposedly depleted a significant portion of the world’s rum supply. This is the perfect drink to pair with your custom Mai Tais sunglasses.

Ingredients & Directions

1 lime
½ ounce orange curacao
¼ ounce orgeat (almond) syrup
¼ ounce simple syrup
1 ounce silver or amber rum
1 ounce dark rum

1. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice over a cocktail shaker. You can save the spent lime shells for garnish.
2. Add remaining ingredients and ice.
3. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.

Best summer cocktails mai tai
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Written by Ryan Kelly for Knockaround.

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