Food & Drink

22 signs your cookout sucks

The sun's out. The beers are cold. It's the perfect day for a cookout. You score some meat, then invite your friends over for a day of grilling, drinking, and debauchery. But something's... not right. Half the people show up empty handed. The meat tastes suspiciously like... vegetables?!

Your perfect day has turned into an exercise in mediocrity. And you haven't even gotten to the part where some dude whips out his guitar. These are the 22 signs that your BBQ sucks. Don't let them happen to you.

Andy Kryza

There’s More Wine Than Beer
Nothing says “hot Summer day” like a full-bodied, warm red wine. This is the last time your girlfriend writes the guest list. It's starting to look like Bastille Day, not Independence Day.

The Kid-To-Adult Ratio Is Staggering
Sure, this is a family affair. But the BBQ has a Chuck E. Cheese feel to it, minus the sweet prizes and terrifying robot rodents.
Nobody Brought Anything... Except Beer For Themselves
We’re glad you plan to eat three brats, a burger, a plate of potato salad, and some mac, but do you think that 40 of cheap beer’s gonna be enough to wash it all down?

Liquid smoke
Andy Kryza

There’s Liquid Smoke On The Condiment Table
Liquid smoke is bad enough when it’s put on meat while it’s cooking. Putting it on alongside mustard and ketchup just might make Texas explode.

Half The Crowd Says They’re “Just Popping In” Between Other Parties
Thank you for blessing us with your presence for 10 minutes, and managing to seriously deplete our supply of alcohol and food. We hope you enjoy the rest of your day treating people's homes like buffet lines.

Frozen meat
Josiah Ball

The Burgers Are All The Pre-Formed, Frozen Kind
… and even worse, they’re all turkey or black bean.

Everything Tastes Like Lighter Fluid
Sometimes, a little "liquid Boy Scout" is needed to get the fire going. Two bottles later, and your chicken tastes like it was marinated at a gas station for a week.
There’s No Grill
The invitation clearly said “BBQ”, and yet here we are, standing around a table full of raw meat wondering how the hell you got the words "potluck" and “BBQ” so horribly confused, and why you keep insisting it’s too hot to turn the effin' oven on.

The Grill Is The Size Of A Shoebox
Sure, that bargain-bin, one-use grill is great for cooking for a toddler, but you’ve got 30 grown-ups here. Given the grill space, this cookout will be a sleepover before everyone gets fed.

The Guy Running The Grill Started The Party At 9am
Maybe he’s the reason there’s more wine than beer. He’s definitely the reason that the burgers look like hockey pucks.

Veggie Burgers Outnumber Real Burgers 3:1
This is a BBQ, not a PETA mixer. And why are the people who brought the Boca Burgers bogarting all the beef ones?

The “Homemade” Potato Salad Is Still In The Shape Of A Can
At least take the effort to poke it with a fork so it’s not completely obvious that you swiped this from a canned-food drive on your way over.

Every Dude Is An Amateur George Foreman
The minute the guy manning the grill steps aside for a second, seven dudes swarm the thing like flies, prematurely flipping meat and adding every seasoning on the table. Nobody can figure out why the food now contains enough salt to kill a herd of deer.
The Grill Itself Is A George Foreman
It's awesome that you didn't throw this out when you left college, but that extension cord running from the house to the yard is an extreme tripping hazard. And the drip tray is attracting raccoons.

Your Friend Who Said He Was Bringing Fireworks Just Brought Snakes
Seriously? That’s how you’re celebrating America’s breaking free from tyrannical colonial rule? By making the sidewalk look like a cat box?

The Chef’s Specialty Is Hot Dogs
And even those are charred and inedible.
Your Lawn Games Consist Of “Don’t Step In Dog Poop”
Sure, lawn darts are hard to come by these days, but doesn’t anybody at least have a football? Or a pooper scooper?

Some A-Hole Brought An Acoustic Guitar
Despite your many efforts and wardrobe choices, life is not an Abercrombie commercial. And nobody  -- NOBODY – wants to hear you butcher “Satellite”. Three times. That guitar’s starting to look like a good substitute for lighter fluid.

The Host’s Instagram Addiction Is Causing Everything To Burn
All those strangers on the Internet are going to be really impressed with your ability to cook 20 brats at once. But can you please take them off the grill before you start adding sepia filters to the photos?

Mike Gerbert

The "Grillmaster’s" Secret BBQ Sauce Is Ketchup
It’s a family recipe. Except baby back ribs aren’t supposed to taste like Mom’s meatloaf.

Somebody brought something borderline fancy…
… and won’t shut up about it. You do know that “orzo salad” is just foodie speak for cold noodles and mayonnaise, right? And that it’s gonna just sit next to the Cheetos until somebody throws it out?

Somebody Invited Rick
And he brought his damn guitar.

Andy Kryza is a senior editor on Thrillist's national food and drink team. He once brought a hand drum to a BBQ in college. He's still sorry. Follow him to ill-advised drum circles via @apkryza.