Written by Kate Barnett.
While drinks are almost always a welcomed addition to a cookout, I’m stepping it up this year. The reason is twofold: on one hand it’s fun to play grown up and bring an exciting treat, on the other it’s often much less expensive than a couple bottles of wine. Here are a few favorites that come off disproportionately thoughtful, compared to the effort they require to make. And yes, some of which are still boozy.
Prosciutto e melone. An easy classic. Grab a melon, some prosciutto and toothpicks. Cut up the melon, wrap in prosciutto and secure. Done.
Deviled eggs. Boil eggs, cut ’em in half, scoop out the yolk and mix in mayo and a bit of mustard, plus salt and pepper to taste. Scoop back into the egg halves and sprinkle with cayenne. Surprisingly tasty.
Endive, blue cheese and grapes. Look! It’s (almost) red, white and blue! Separate endive spears and put a piece of blue cheese and half a red grape (or garnish of your choice) at the bottom of each spear. Voila. Great combination of flavors, and looks particularly classy.
Sangria. The trick here is ginger ale, brandy, and a few hours for the flavors to mix. Mix a bottle of wine (cheap Syrah or Rioja works well), a couple shots of brandy, a couple shots of triple sec, a healthy splash of orange juice, fruit (I’m partial to whole crunchy grapes, orange and lemon slices and pieces of whatever fruit’s around), and a cup or two of ginger ale. Add a spoonful of sugar, if you’re so inclined. Don’t worry about exact measurements, and try to use whatever you have on hand. The ingredients could easily cost $50, or $15. If you don’t have brandy or triple sec, just buy nips at the liquor store. The longer this sits in the fridge, the better it tastes.
Perfect Margaritas. Not particularly easy to transport, or inexpensive, but so much better than buying margarita mix. 1 part tequila, 1 part fresh squeezed lime juice, 1 part Triple Sec. Add ice and blend. Dip the rim of your glass in the mixture followed by margarita salt, fill and enjoy. Squeezing limes can be a nuisance but it makes a huge difference in taste, so if you have a juicer, use it.
While these are pretty fail-safe, if something goes terribly wrong you can always grab a six-pack of Hoegaarden and be on your merry way. If you have any suggestions to add, please share — the larger my arsenal of lazy recipes, the better.