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Chat Leftovers: Cocktails for the Grill Party

Tuscan Sangria is perfect for a cookout. (Michael Temchine for The Washington Post)

The Food section's Free Range online live discussion drew questions about soft-shell crabs, bouillabaise, lettuce storage -- and, naturally, spirits. As usual, however, there were more questions than there was time to answer them. Here's one I couldn't get to during the hour:

Richmond, Va.: I've got a cocktail question. We spent this entire weekend grilling out and went through a variety of beers and wines, but none of us (and there were several groups of people involved over the weekend) could agree on the perfect summer cocktail to go along with most grilled foods. We had ribs, burgers, salmon and kebabs. (Thanks for the recipes!) Where certain wines and beers lend themselves to certain meals, we really couldn't decide on a good go-to cocktail for grilling parties. Any suggestions?

Cocktail and food pairings are notoriously difficult, whether at the grill or in the kitchen. The problem, a lot of times, is that many of the popular cocktails call for citrus juices or large quantities of booze (as in a martini or Manhattan) that can strip the palate. What to do? Last summer, I suggested some wine-based cocktails that might work.

The Duke of Marlborough. (Michael Temchine for The Washington Post)

Certain sangria variations, such as the Tuscan Sangria, seem to go well with grilled meats, even though there is some citrus in the mix. Drinks with aperitifs such as Lillet Blanc or a sherry-based cocktail such as the Duke of Marlborough (right) or ones made with Italian spirits such as Campari, Aperol or Punt e Mes also seem to work. An Americano cocktail (Campari and Punt e Mes) or an Aperol Spritz (Aperol, prosecco and soda water) are also very nice with food and in keeping with the lighter spirit of a warm-weather cookout.

-- Jason Wilson

By The Food Section  |  May 27, 2009; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Spirits  | Tags: Jason Wilson, cocktails, grilling  
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My go-to summer cocktail is a mojito....comparative to some other traditional cocktails, they have less lime juice so are less overpowering. The mint, while a strong flavor, is refreshing and emphasizes seasonal flavors (also, mint and lamb kabobs are a summer grilling match made in heaven). You can also add fresh watermelon or peach juice to give your drinks a unique, yet summer-y flavor.

Posted by: KinDC | May 28, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

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