Here, expert pit masters and grilling gurus share their favorite drinks to sip while manning the fire.

By Justine Sterling
Updated May 23, 2017
Dark & Stormy
Credit: © Wendell T. Webber

It’s time to fire up the grill, dust off the smoker and strap on your best “Kiss the Cook” apron, because this weekend is the unofficial kickoff to grilling season. Any good griller can juggle burgers, hot dogs and vegetable skewers without breaking a sweat, but the real challenge is doing all that while holding a beer. Here, expert pit masters and grilling gurus share their favorite drinks to sip while manning the fire.

Lone Star: “When I am outside grilling, Lone Star in a can is my drink of choice. It’s nice and refreshing gives me a manageable buzz.” —Andrew Wiseheart; Contigo, Austin

Rosé Champagne: “My perfect summer day is grilling or smoking meats in the backyard or on my balcony accompanied by the smell of blooming flowers and the refreshing tickle on my tongue from pink bubbles. Grilling plus Champagne equals grill girl happiness!” —Elizabeth Karmel; Hill Country Barbecue, New York City

Aperol: “When I am grilling I like drinking refreshing things like light-bodied beers, but my absolute favorite drink is Aperol. It is an orange-and-rhubarb based bittersweet aperitif. I usually drink it on ice with something bubbly like sparkling wine, soda or some sort of citrusy beer. If I’m feeling real saucy, I’ll throw in a shot of vodka as well. I like it because the bitterness keeps me salivating, and when you’re tasting salty, smoky, grilled meat it’s nice to have something that will cleanse the palate.” —Greg Denton; Ox, Portland, Oregon

Deep Ellum: “When I’m grilling, more than anything I enjoy Dallas’s Deep Ellum beer. Local classic cans of beer are a perfect grilling pleasure.” —Dean Fearing; Fearing’s, Dallas

Txakoli: “When I grill at home, I refuse to stand over the barbecue without an ice-cold drink. I love Txakoli from the Basque region of Spain because it’s dry, crisp and has a touch of spritz to it—all good qualities to have in front of a hot fire. It’s also low in alcohol, so I know it’ll go the distance with me if I’m cooking something low and slow.” —Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton; Ox, Portland, Oregon

Miller High Life Pony: “The pleasure of growing up in New Orleans with a dad who was raised in Cuba was that everything but the kitchen sink was cooked in the open air on a grill. He’d have an ice-cold Miller High Life pony in his left hand and tongs in the other. Did I mention no shirt on was required attire? I took my tips from the expert, so I drink beer. I like a Miller High Life pony because it is so small—they stay cold and you can drink them fast.” —David Guas; Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery and host/co-judge of Travel Channel's American Grilled, Arlington, Virginia

Michelada: “When I’m barbecuing during the day, I like drinking Micheladas. They are more interesting than beer—spicy and acidic—and making them is a great ritual.” —Sean Brock; Husk, Charleston, South Carolina

Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro: “It’s super-smooth from the nitro, and it has smoky overtones and a sweetness from the milk that really compliments BBQ sauces. I would particularly recommend this amazing beer with brisket and/or ribs.” —Andrew Evans; The BBQ Joint, Easton, Maryland

PBR: “Barbecue and smoking pigs is a fun but long adventure. So to pass the time, drinking PBR and playing corn hole or horseshoes with friends and family is a great way to stay entertained.” —Ted Prater; Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden, Austin

Dark & Stormy: “If I’m grilling and want the ultimate drink, here’s what I do: I love a good Dark & Stormy, but I like to tweak it a little. I start with smoked ice. I keep a little in the freezer at all times. You need a good dark rum—I like Zacapa 15 year; it has so many similarities to a good whiskey and adds great depth and richness. The next component is ginger beer. If you have to buy it, buy Reed’s Ginger Brew. But if you have time, make your own.” —Albert Gonzalez; Apothecary Café & Wine Bar, Austin