When BBQ season hits, it’s time for you to bring the heat. Summer only lasts a few short months, so you’ll want to make sure your BBQ isn’t just good—it’s legendary. We’re talking about throwing the kind of cookout that your friends want to be seen at—one that delivers a serious case of FOMO to those who miss it.
So how do you bring the flavor this summer and raise the BBQ? It’s easy with these helpful tips, delicious food recipes and can’t-miss cocktail recipes featuring Jack Daniel’s® Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey®, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple®, Woodford Reserve® Bourbon and el Jimador® Tequila. The only problem you might have will be getting your guests to leave.
It’s easy to be a grill master if you’ve taken the steps to prepare. While you want your summer BBQ to feel casual, invites are a good idea to get a rough estimate of your guest list. After all, there’s nothing worse than getting caught with too little food or drink. Just be sure to send your invites a couple weeks early—summer schedules fill up fast and you’ll want to catch people before they commit to other, lesser events.
About one week out, make your list and do a little nonperishable shopping—napkins, decorations—that sort of thing. We’re big advocates for making prep as easy as possible for the host, so put in a little work ahead of time to minimize your stress on the big day.
- Buy nonperishables like mixers, liquor, plates, cups, utensils and decorations.
- Take stock on essentials like glassware, bottle openers and napkins. Grab anything you’re missing.
- Create any food or drink signs to show off ingredients and add a pro-host vibe.
Look, we won’t pretend that you’re not going to serve your guests beer and hard seltzers. We’ve been to cookouts—that’s standard. But if you want to elevate your drink game, then we suggest serving a few of our favorite summer sippers for a more elevated grilling event.
Jack Honey Smash – Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, lemon juice, simple syrup and mint leaves. It’s basically summer in a glass.
Sparkling Jack Cooler – Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, KORBEL®, OJ and honey. California champagne adds a splash of class to this refreshing recipe.
Dirty Shirley – Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, lemon-lime soda and a cherry on top. The Shirley Temple is all grown up.
Jack Apple Fizz – Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple, lemon and soda. This sipper is tart, sweet and impossible to beat.
Woodford Reserve Bourbon Punch – Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon, lemonade and pomegranate juice. It’s the perfect punch for your summer crowds.
Jimirita – Just a classic margarita, the el Jimador Tequila way—pure perfection.
Need some NA drinks, too? We’ve got your covered. Check out our quick and easy alcohol-free recipes.
At this point you should have a good idea of who’s coming and who’s going to regret missing out, so with a day or two left before your BBQ, it’s time to pick up your meats, fruits and vegetables. We recommend always buying a little more than you think you’ll need. After all, you never know who’s going to drop by at the last minute—and while summer memories fade, freezer meat is eternal. Here are some easy and delicious ideas to help take your BBQ spread to the next level.
Main courses are important, but never skimp on the sides. Try these recipes for a few guaranteed crowd-pleasers.
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Mozzarella, Tomato & Basil Caprese Skewers
- Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey Spiked Baked Beans
- Dip for chips and veggies
People usually manage to make their own fun, but activities never hurt (unless they’re lawn darts). Cornhole is a guaranteed winner, and you can’t go wrong with classics like horseshoes, bocce ball or even croquet, if you’re feeling fancy.
Cut up your vegetables and fruit, start marinating meats and make sure you have plenty of propane or charcoal for your grill. And don’t forget to wash out that cooler!
The Morning Of
Let’s get cookin’ by checking these must-do’s off your to-do list first.
- Set out the cooler and delegate a trusted friend for an ice run.
- Pre-batch any drinks, but don’t add ice yet.
- Put the finishing touches on your menu items.
- Set out plates, utensils, plastic cups, chairs and tables.
- Set up yard games.
Guests Are on the Way
It’s time to get your game-face on and face the fire.
- Add fresh items to the bar and open bottles for easy serving.
- Add ice to your pre-batched drinks and label with appropriate signage.
- Lay out your appetizers and bites so guests can help themselves.
- Fire up the grill and get cooking.
And be sure to have a cocktail in hand to set the mood as the guests arrive. Now relax and enjoy—you’ve got this.
Cheers to Being Responsible
A great host takes care of every little detail, especially when it comes to helping guests celebrate responsibly. For every occasion you plan, be sure to serve food, provide nonalcoholic options, and offer a safe ride home.