• Celine Bossart

The Ultimate Memorial Day Weekend Cocktail Pairing Guide

There are few things better than cracking open a cold one alongside a plate full of Memorial Day Weekend classics straight from the grill—then again, if you think outside the box, there’s an entire world of pairing possibilities just waiting to be unearthed. Gin cocktails are much easier to pair up with bold summer flavors than one might think. In fact, some of the spirit’s best friends (citrus and bubbles) naturally cut through rich barbecue sauces, charred meats, buttery corn on the cob, and foods with higher fat content in general, making it just as easy to add cocktail offerings to your Memorial Day Weekend drinks menu as it is to put out a bucket of beers next to the weekend’s vibrant spread. Here are a few of our favorite gin cocktails for the go-to dishes of the biggest grilling weekend of the summer.

1. Gin and Tonic + Steaks, Burgers, and Other Grilled Red Meats

Rich, grilled meats with a healthy side of fat call for something easy, crisp, and refreshing, like a classic Gin and Tonic. Additionally, fresh citrus (generally lime) is a go-to accompaniment for the old G&T, and whether it’s sitting on top of your glass or has been given a squeeze, consider its presence somewhat of a palate cleanser between each bite. This is also a drink you can continue to build as the glass empties, so there’s no getting up to fetch another refreshment while you’re sitting down to eat—simply keep a bit of ice, gin, tonic, and citrus wedges within arm’s reach, then top off to your taste as needed.

2. Tom Collins + Seafood, Sweet Corn, and Dishes with Barbecue Sauce

Lemon and seafood are a match made in heaven, and depending on how sweet you take your Tom Collins, this classic adult lemonade can also stand up to a rich, brown sugar-laden barbecue sauce (contrary to popular belief, sweeter drinks pair best with sweeter dishes, as sugar content in food tends to have a drying effect on wines, cocktails, and the like). And don’t forget: you can always get creative with your garnishes

3. French/Pink 75, Gimlet, OR Bee’s Knees + Dessert

Again, sweetness levels in drinks are important to consider when pairing with sweet courses. The ultra-classic lime, sugar, and gin combo that is the Gimlet combines both tart and sweet, lifting heavier dessert dishes (think cherry pie with a healthy dollop of whipped cream), as does the honeyed Bee’s Knees. A French or Pink 75 represents a perfect harmony between bubbles, citrus, and a touch of sugar, making this age-old sparkling cocktail a rather versatile option for all kinds of Memorial Day Weekend favorites.

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