Star Chefs Share Their Go-To Grilling Drinks
Grilling is great—but it’s nothing without a hearty beverage in hand. And no one understands that better than some of the country’s top chefs who have honed drinking while grilling down to an artform. Here, talented chefs from across the U.S. reveal their go-to drinks for grill-side satisfaction.
Chef: Harold Moore
Restaurant: Harold's Meat + Three
Drink: Red Wine with Peaches
"My go-to is red wine with ripe peaches, but if we've eaten all the peaches, you can't go wrong with a vodka and pink lemonade. Or both! To pair, some of my grilling go-tos are BBQ steamed clams or grilled scallops with lemon and sea salt."
Chef: Ken Oringer
Restaurant: Uni, Coppa, Toro, Little Donkey
"I'm a mezcal guy. Give me mezcal on the rocks with an orange slice, and I'll sip it while I'm grilling Coke-marinated carne asada tacos."
Chef: Sheldon Simeon
Restaurant: Tin Roof
"Beer is usually my choice of refreshment when I pulehu (grill); it's usually something in a can like Rolling Rock or PBR. But when I do want to steez it up and have a cocktail, my go-to drink is a Paloma. I make mine with Herradura Blanco tequila, a squeeze of lime, salty-sweet dried plums called ‘li hing mui,’ and topped off with Squirt Soda."
Chef: Jamie Bissonnette
Restaurant: Coppa, Toro, Little Donkey
"Txakoli is great when grilling veggies and seafood. I love grilled shrimp, spring onions with Txakoli and some romesco sauce. I also love Basque sidre when grilling sausages. The funk of the cider is great with the fatty meat."
Chef: Brian Landry
Drink: Dark ‘N’ Stormy
“I think the Dark ‘N’ Stormy is the perfect daytime drink to enjoy while standing over the hot grill. The spice from a strong ginger beer cuts the molasses notes of the dark rum. Hamilton Pot Still Black Rum and Afrohead XO are two of my current favorites. Fish that I catch will be on the grill—I am hoping to get out on the water with a little more frequency. Fresh Louisiana fish that I expect to hit my grill: red snapper, cobia, redfish, and speckled trout.”
Chef: Doug Psaltis
Restaurant: RPM Steak, RPM Italian, Bub City, Three Dots and a Dash, Windy City Smokeout
Drink: Naked & Famous
“My new go-to drink is the Naked & Famous, which is equal parts yellow Chartreuse, mezcal, Aperol and lime. This drink is super easy to throw together for one person or a crowd and it's refreshing, especially when standing over a hot grill. It also complements my favorite things to grill: whole Mediterranean fish, Moroccan-spiced chicken thighs or my wife's secret Korean beef ribs.”
Chef: Simone Tong
Restaurant: Little Tong
“While grilling, I love to drink Micheladas with a twist: I start with any ice cold beer that I have on hand and add Little Tong’s housemade spiced sweet soy sauce, black smoked sea salt, chili powder, lime and lemon. My favorite dish to grill during the summer is charred squid with rice, topped with pickled red onions, black sesame and roasted garlic sauce, lime zest, lime juice and cilantro.”
Chef: Chris Jaeckle
Restaurant: Uma Temakeria
Drink: Ponzu-ade with Rum
“I love mixing up ponzu lemonade with aged rum during the summer. It's great to sip on while grilling corn on the cob—make sure the husks are on still on, and your corn will be cooked to sweet perfection.”
Chef: Brad Willits
Restaurant: Camperdown Elm
Drink: Gin & Tonic or Miami Vice
"I really enjoy a great Gin & Tonic with great gin (Dorothy Parker), great ice, great tonic water, topped off with a lime—simple and delicious. Also, if I'm back home in Florida, definitely a Miami Vice! Sipping tequila is always great, too (blancos), and of course, you can't beat a freezing cold beer in a can."
Chef: Calvin Eng
Restaurant: Nom Wah Nolita
Drink: Spiked Agua Fresca
"Spiked agua frescas are the move when grilling. Just saying ‘agua frescas’ is refreshing. But if I roll through to a homie’s BBQ and I'm expected to cook, which happens too often, I'm also just good with a couple tall boys from the corner store."
Chef: Marcus Gleadow-Ware
Restaurant: Greydon House Restaurant
“A Negroni is the perfect aperitif for grilling: a simple, no-nonsense drink with a complex, sophisticated flavor profile I really enjoy.”
Chef: Eric Sibley
Restaurant: Doris Metropolitan
Drink: Tequila or Mezcal or Green Chartreuse
“I typically drink tequila or mezcal while grilling during the spring and summer. Either in a cocktail or on the rocks. When grilling during the winter, I stick to green Chartreuse. It keeps you warm from the inside.”
Chef: Galen Zamarra
Restaurant: Mas (farmhouse)
“When at home in the summer, you’ll find me grilling oysters, wilted greens and whole grilled porgy from Long Island over a wood fire with either a Boulevardier with Bulleit bourbon or a Salty Dog with Dorothy Parker gin in hand.”
Chef: Arturo McLeod
Restaurant: Benjamin Prime Steakhouse
Drink: Southern Comfort on the Rocks
“The sweet-yet-strong flavor pairs perfectly with the funk of a dry-aged steak.”
Chef: Ricardo "Ricky" Arias
Drink: Rum Punch
“The best part of grilling is having an excuse to drink rum punch! I use clear rum, orange juice, mango juice and sparkling wine. It'll keep you refreshed while you're sweating it out, cooking for everybody.”
Chef: Alex Pirani
Restaurant: The Horny Ram
Drink: Gin Martini
“For summer grilling, my favorite go-to is either a Gin Martini—preferably Hendrick’s—or a dry fino sherry or manzanilla. I really enjoy these drinks with scallops, head-on prawns, top-neck clams, corn and romaine, all on the grill.”
Chef: Jon Wallace
Drink: The Gentleman
"When the mood strikes to grill at home, my constant companion is a drink I like to call The Gentleman. It is a stiffly poured combination of gin, grapefruit juice and seltzer water, with a splash of Campari. Sipped ice cold out of a tall, slender glass—perhaps with a straw if I'm feeling fancy—it is astonishingly refreshing, a bit sweet and delightfully tart while packing a prodigious wallop. It allows me a sense of twee refinement while I'm poking at chunks of meat over an open flame. The aforementioned chunks of meat are most often from a leg of lamb—marinated a day or two in advance with Greek yogurt, sumac, rosemary, absurd amounts of minced garlic, salt, crushed red pepper and black pepper. Serve with grilled vegetables—particularly sweet onion—and a bracing tzatziki sauce, and remember that the juniper flavors of gin and rosemary are kissing cousins. You can do worse on a summertime day."
Chef: Albert Di Meglio
"I'm a whiskey kind of guy, so I love to sip a Manhattan when grilling. To mix things up in the warmer weather, I'll grill a few fresh cherries until charred and add to the mix. A Manhattan, grilled cherries and some duck slow-roasting on a grill, rendering a crispy skin, kind of sings to me."
Chef: Justin Neubeck
Restaurant: Bedford & Co.
“When I'm grilling, a Margarita is my go to drink. It's usually very hot—especially when working with a wood-burning grill—and there's nothing more refreshing than citrus and tequila. Once I'm done, I can take my Margarita with me to the dinner table. Tequila complements the smokiness of grilled meat or fish beautifully, and the sourness of the lime really cuts through any richness.”