A great summer party or Labor Day bash doesn’t just come together. It takes a little work, even if that really only means getting your hands on some great local drinks or a tool or two to make hosting easier. Here are some easy ways to elevate your outdoor bar as we drink in the last few weeks of sweet, sweet summer.
By all means, keep using that camp cooler you inherited from your grandparents. But if you’re looking for an upgrade, check out the stuff from Cordova in Idaho. They make some coolers out of recycled material and have summer-fresh options like the Summer of Love collection. They also make great backpack coolers if you’re looking to keep things cool as you BYOB to a get-together.
All it takes is one broken favorite glass to rethink your outdoor bar approach. Vessels are gonna get bumped —repeatedly — so sacrifice a little class for durability. We like these Tossware stemless glasses, especially if wine is on the al fresco menu. For larger gatherings, there are some more elegant compostable options, like these cocktail cups. Save the really good glassware for indoor affairs when it cools down in a couple of months.
These superior ready-to-drink cocktails come wearing incredible labels. The liquid is good too, and all the more party-ready in can form. Check out classics like the Gin Fizz, Paloma or Negroni (some even coming in nitro form now) or go with something more inventive like the Lintik, a mix of lemon-infused gin, housemate bitters and simple syrup. Look out for their line of vermouths that just dropped, an ideal mixer to have in the cooler during the dog days of summer for ice-cold Martinis or something more session-able (and European), like vermouth and soda.
Speaking of, vermouth is having a bit of a renaissance and there are some great producers right here in the Northwest. Ransom has been at it for a while and makes a respectable vermouth. Increasingly, wineries are getting into the game. Look out for great options from the likes of Kelley Fox and Cana’s Feast. Chill ’em down and serve ’em neat as they drink like great wines. Better still, sip them over something briny like green olives and tinned fish.
As the heat persists well into September, the key is a good light wine. Sure, the marketers will be telling you that autumn is coming and therefore time to switch from white and pink to red, but that’s not usually the case, at least not until a month or so later. For now, go with refreshing and food-friendly options. Mencia from Analemma in the Columbia River Gorge, Pinot Gris with actual personality from Antiquum Farm in the southern Willamette Valley, or the one-of-a-kind Blanc Franc from Savage Grace in the Columbia Valley of Washington. Want to travel far away, if only mentally? Somewhere cool and alpine? Lock down a bottle of the tremendously crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Sattlerhof in Austria.
Fresh hop season is right around the corner and while we’re always excited for that, a robust IPA on a hot day is not always welcome. Instead, load up on Oakshire’s Sun Made Cucumber Sour or any number of tropical hazy IPAs from Fast Fashion. These are beers with plenty of flavor and character but won’t wreck your palate and make you take an early nap. In fact, plug in some fine NA options, like the Crux NO MO IPA.