Now that we’re into August, you’ve probably attended your fair share of that quintessential summer event—the backyard barbecue. Hot dogs, burgers, potato salad, veggie platters, watermelon, paper plates, plastic cups, drinks straight from the ice-cold can or slightly sun-warmed in the heat… the features of a classic barbecue are familiar and beloved for a reason. Once in a while, though, every host likes to change things up and throw a fabulous event that will go down in history amongst their friends and family. Here’s our guide to making that happen!
Set the Scene
The prep work and cleanup that go into hosting a dinner of any size can make a lot of work. For many hosts, barbecues are a great option for easily serving simple food for lots of people with minimal cleanup afterwards. Luckily, elevating your next barbecue doesn’t have to compromise on that. Setting the scene can radically change your guests’ experience, from their ability to unwind to the way their meal tastes.
This can be as simple as investing in some new dishware and decor. Cube up some watermelon and serve it on a stunning new tray, or invest in a patterned tablecloth and a matching set of showstopper coasters to bring together an outdoor table setting. Researchers have begun to recognize that dining is truly a multisensory experience, influenced not only by taste and smell but by a whole host of other sensory factors influencing the broader experience of the meal. Even something as simple as the colour of the plate on which your food is served can affect how it tastes.
Plus, in a 2021 interview on the science of dining with Popular Science, experimental scientist Charles Spence suggests that hosts include a “mental palate cleanser” to help guests disconnect from any stresses or drudgery of their day-to-day lives. A party game, a special cocktail or mocktail served upon arrival, or a touch of luxury in your dinner decor can really help set the party mood—without requiring extra hours in the kitchen.
Customize Your Cocktails (or Mocktails)
Speaking of cocktails, drinks are another simple way to wow your guests and offer that “mental palate cleanser.” Instead of (or in addition to) the traditional cooler of beer, soda, and lemonade, adding a signature drink to your menu helps make the meal one to remember, especially if you play up the presentation. Cocktails are designed to be showy, so let them work with your decor to elevate your barbecue without making too much more work for you.
If you’re offering a summer cocktail, it’s a great idea to put a little effort into offering an equally enticing mocktail. This allows kids and any non-drinking adults to get in on the fun and feel fully included in the party. If your barbecue falls during a heatwave, mocktails are also a great option for staying refreshed without the dehydrating effects of alcohol.
Carli D’s Cocktail Recommendation: The Classic Pimm’s Cup
The Pimm’s Cup is a UK summer favourite, and for good reason. This refreshing cocktail can be made up individually or prepped like punch for an easy way to serve more guests.
- 1 oz Pimm’s No. 1
- 2 oz non-alcoholic ginger beer
- 1 oz lemonade
- Garnishes such as orange slices, fresh berries, cucumber, and mint
- Pour Pimm’s No. 1, ginger beer, and lemonade over ice in a glass. Stir briefly to combine. Top up with more ginger beer and/or lemonade if desired.
- Add garnishes. Strawberries, cucumber, and mint are traditional, but blueberries, raspberries, and orange slices also make great additions.
Tip: Although you won’t get the characteristic Pimm’s No. 1 flavour, making a non-alcoholic version of this drink with just the ginger beer, lemonade, and garnish is also tasty. A spicy ginger beer adds a delicious kick!
Carli D’s Mocktail Recommendation: Watermelon Slushy
Anyone who likes watermelon will love this grown-up version of the nostalgic convenience store slushy. Plus, this version is less sweet and less likely to turn your tongue blue! We like this simple recipe from A Couple Cooks.
- Ripe watermelon, cubed or scooped
- Lime juice
- Blend the watermelon with some lime juice, sugar, and ice cubes. Start with just a little lime juice and sugar so you can adjust the taste as desired.
- Serve with a straw for maximum fun!
Tip: Other fruit juices would also make great additions to this drink. You can also add a sprig of mint, a few berries, or a watermelon gummy for a fun garnish. Or, for an alcoholic version, add an ounce of light rum, coconut rum, or vodka per serving.
Carli D’s Mocktail Just for Kids: The Frozen Sunset
Kids (and adults with a sweet-tooth) will love this sweet and stunning drink.
- 1 oz grenadine syrup
- 1 cup orange soda, like Fanta or Crush
- 1 cup pink lemonade
- Fruit to garnish
- In a blender or food processor, blend ice until it reaches the consistency of a slushy or snow cone. Pour into a glass to fill the bottom third. Add grenadine syrup and freeze 15 min.
- Add more blended ice on top of the frozen grenadine syrup until the glass is about ⅔ full. Pour in orange soda and freeze 15 min.
- Add more blended ice to fill the rest of the glass. Pour in pink lemonade. Garnish with fruit if desired and serve. The colours and flavours will begin to blend as the ice melts!
Hope you all enjoyed the August blog! Be sure to share your Carli D products, your decor inspos, and you sipping on the drinks by tagging @carlidcollective.ca on Insta!
Image credit to the talented @heathersavardphotography. Looking for a photographer? Check out heathersavardphotography.ca for more!