Read the book and email me when you pick your party date! Join these 12 others from May!

Grill and Thrill: What to Bring to a BBQ Party

Last updated: March 27, 2024

Ah, the unmistakable aroma of a BBQ grill, the sound of laughter, and the clinking of glasses.

Such a great party for bringing people together.

In this post, we’re diving deep into the art of crafting the perfect BBQ drink menu.

Whether you’re hosting a small family get-together or a grand neighborhood feast, there’s something here for everyone.

A Few Key Points You’ll Uncover:

  • BBQ Essentials: Preparation is essential, from understanding guest preferences and introducing unique dishes to using nametags.
  • Easy Dishes: Opt for easy and diverse dishes while also considering guests’ dietary needs and avoiding messy options.
  • Drink Ideas: Offering a mix of alcoholic options, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic, is as essential as the food.

So, grab your apron and your bartender’s shaker; it’s time to elevate your BBQ game!

Why you should listen to me: Hi! Nick Gray here. I've hosted hundreds of parties, some even at significant museums. I was featured in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times and I was referred to as the host of "culturally significant" parties by New York Magazine.

Understanding the Essentials of a BBQ Party

Ah, the sizzle of a BBQ, the hum of conversations, and the promise of a great evening. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a summer party! But before you fire up that grill and invite your pals over, let’s dive deep into the intricacies of what makes a BBQ party truly unforgettable.

The first thing any seasoned party thrower will tell you is that preparation is key. I mean, imagine this: your guests arriving, and you’re running around like a headless chicken. Not the best look, right?

Taking time to understand what your guests like can make you a very memorable host. Remember, food is not just about nourishment; it’s an experience. Think of that cousin who’s recently gone vegan or that friend who loves spicy food.

Tailoring your offerings ensures everyone leaves with a full belly and a happy heart.

While everyone loves a classic burger or a hot dog straight off the grill, throwing in a few unique dishes can elevate your BBQ to legendary status. Ever thought of grilled peaches drizzled with honey? Or perhaps a zesty grilled corn salad?

Not only does this cater to different tastes, but it also gives your guests something to talk about. And hey, if Aunt Martha learns a new recipe from your party, that’s brownie points right there!

It might sound a tad formal for a backyard BBQ, but trust me, nametags are a game-changer.

Especially when you’re bringing together groups who might not know each other. A simple name tag sticker can help break the ice.

Quick and Easy Dishes to Impress

“Whoa, who made this?” is something you’ll hear a lot if you follow these quick and delightful dish suggestions.

It’s time to play around and win some culinary cred without breaking a sweat.

A Rundown of Easy-to-Make Side Dishes:

  • Zucchini Ribbon Salad: Thinly slice zucchini, add some cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta, and drizzle with lemon vinaigrette. Simple, fresh, and delightful.
  • Couscous Salad: Whip up some couscous, throw in roasted veggies, and finish with a sprinkle of parsley and lemon zest. This dish screams sophistication, doesn’t it?
  • Baked Beans with a Twist: Add a splash of bourbon and maple syrup to your baked beans for a flavor profile that’s just the right blend of sweet and zesty.

While potato salad and coleslaw are timeless classics, why not dazzle with a beetroot and orange salad? Or charred Brussels sprouts with a balsamic glaze? Remember, you’re aiming for that perfect mix of comfort and curiosity.

From gluten-free to keto, ensuring that there’s something for everyone not only showcases your thoughtfulness but also ensures everyone feels included.

Ask your guests in advance about any dietary restrictions. Nothing says “I care” more than making sure your vegan friend has more than just salad to munch on.

Listen, as much as we all adore a good wing, BBQ parties can get messy, and nobody likes saucy fingers with nowhere to wipe them. Opt for cleaner options like skewers or sliders, which are just as delicious but a tad less messy.

Refreshing Drink Ideas for Every Guest

What’s a BBQ party without some refreshing beverages to wash down those delicious eats? Crafting the perfect drink menu is much like curating a playlist – you’ve got to have something for everyone, from toe-tapping classics to catchy new hits.

Whether your guest list consists of cocktail connoisseurs, mocktail mavens, or simple sippers, these drink suggestions will ensure everyone’s glass is always half full (or more!).

Here are some drink ideas for your next BBQ party:

Alcoholic drinks:

  • Minty Mojito: A refreshing blend of mint, lime, sugar, white rum, and soda. The minty coolness is the perfect counter to a spicy BBQ.
  • Smoky Bourbon Lemonade: Combine smoky bourbon, fresh lemon juice, a touch of maple syrup, and top it off with sparkling water. The smokiness is a BBQ’s best friend.
  • Rosé Sangria: Mix your favorite rosé with sliced strawberries, oranges, a splash of brandy, and a hint of elderflower liqueur. A fruity delight!

Non-Alcoholic drinks:

  • Cucumber Lime Cooler: Muddle cucumber slices, mix with fresh lime juice, sugar, and top with sparkling water. Cool and invigorating!
  • Peach Iced Tea: Brewed tea mixed with fresh peach puree and a touch of honey. A summertime classic.
  • Berry Fizz: Blend mixed berries, a squeeze of lemon, and top with ginger ale. Perfect for those looking for a fruity, effervescent kick.

One of my cocktail party hosts, created a very detailed list of mocktails that they served to their guests. Read more about their recipes here.


To sum it all up, a BBQ is as much about the sips as it is about the nibbles. And what’s more important than that, is you are bringing together quality people who would enjoy meeting each other.

A Few Takeaways:

  • BBQ Essentials: Preparation is essential, from understanding guest preferences and introducing unique dishes to using nametags.
  • Easy Dishes: Opt for easy and diverse dishes while also considering guests’ dietary needs and avoiding messy options.
  • Drink Ideas: Offering a mix of alcoholic options, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic, is as essential as the food.

So, here’s to raising a glass to good times, delicious drinks, and BBQ parties that linger in memories long after the last drop is sipped.

Do you want to learn how to UPGRADE your parties? Want to host an amazing event that is easy, fun, and has your guests begging for more? Do you want to make new friends, build big relationships, and boost your career? You can do all of that with a simple 2-Hour Cocktail Party. Check out the book that I wrote and download the first few chapters for free to see exactly how it works.

Send me an email with the date of your first party! I’d love to hold you accountable and answer any of your questions. My mission is to convince 500 different people to host their own cocktail party.


Curious about anything else involved with a BBQ party?

What are Some Popular BBQ Drink Pairings?

Popular BBQ drink pairings include spicy ribs with Minty Mojito or Peach Iced Tea, grilled veggies with Smoky Bourbon Lemonade, and BBQ burgers with Rosé Sangria.

Can I Find Non-Alcoholic Drinks Suitable for a BBQ?

Absolutely! There are plenty of suitable non-alcoholic drinks for a BBQ, such as the Cucumber Lime Cooler, Peach Iced Tea, and Berry Fizz. These offer a refreshing taste without the alcohol.

How can I Make my BBQ Drinks Seasonal?

To make your BBQ drinks seasonal, use fresh ingredients available during the current season. For instance, berries in summer, apples in fall, and citrus in winter.

What are Some Unique Alcoholic Beverages for a BBQ?

Some unique alcoholic beverages for a BBQ include the Smoky Bourbon Lemonade, Minty Mojito, and Rosé Sangria. These drinks offer distinct flavors that complement BBQ foods.

Are There any Refreshing Mocktails Suitable for kids at a BBQ?

Yes, there are several refreshing mocktails suitable for kids at a BBQ. Options like the Berry Fizz, Peach Iced Tea, and Cucumber Lime Cooler are kid-friendly and delicious.

How can I Ensure a Diverse Drink Menu for my BBQ Party?

To ensure a diverse drink menu for your BBQ party, aim to have a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. Additionally, offer drinks that cater to various preferences, from sweet and fruity to smoky and robust.

Leave a comment on this article here.

About the author

Nick Gray is the author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party. He’s been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and in a popular TEDx talk. He sold his last company Museum Hack in 2019. Today he’s an expert on networking events, small parties, and creating relationships. Read more about Nick Gray here.

What you should do next...

1. Subscribe to my free Friends Newsletter.
You'll get exclusive life hacks, business research, top tech gadgets and see new productivity tips. See why 12,000 people say it is one of their favorite emails.

2. Get your 2-page Party Checklist.
With over 19 things you can do right now to improve your next party. Plus an Executive Summary of the key lessons inside my book. Get the PDF now.

3. Buy The 2-Hour Cocktail Party on Amazon or Audible.
Look at the reviews: 300+ people can't be wrong. This is my book that I've worked on for the past 5 years and hosted hundreds of events with. It is the single-best resource that is PACKED with tactical tips and the exact scripts I use.

Leave a Comment