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Boozy BBQ: Drinks to Put a Kick in Your Cookout

I used to only drink beer at cookouts — a cooler of assorted brews seemed like an all-American staple while roasting meat in the great outdoors. But on a Fourth of July a few years back, hosting a barbecue in my apartment’s postage stamp of a backyard, I noticed that just as many guests had brought wine as six packs. Cue the record scratch.

Maybe this shouldn’t have been a surprise. Didn’t you hear? America now drinks more wine than anybody else. It’s become common enough that there’s wine made in all 50 states of the Union.

I’ve since realized that drinking wine doesn’t require the sort of swirl-sniff-sip-and-swish analysis you might give it at formal dinner, and doesn’t have to mean dealing with glassware. You can just as easily fill a red plastic cup from a bottle as you can from a keg.

If you normally reach for a summer ale or wheat beer, I’d suggest taking a look at a different kind of cold one: an aromatic white like Gewürztraminer or Riesling. With a zing of acidity, they’ll keep you refreshed while you swat away mosquitoes. If you want something to down with your burger and side of ribs, go for a Grenache or New World Syrah/Shiraz. These reds have enough oomph to stand up to the heartiest meats and won’t clash with ketchup or barbecue sauce. And if you want to prove that you’re secure in your masculinity, reach for a rosé. They’re delicious, so what if they’re pink?

Also, while you might be used to cooking pasta sauce with wine, a splash of red can also make that homemade barbecue sauce even more delicious. You can use the last bit of an unfinished bottle, or pop one open the day before to drink while you prep. Here’s a recipe I’m trying out this year:

Boozy BBQ Sauce

You can either douse meat in this sauce before it goes on the grill, or use it afterward for dipping. I’d suggest preparing a few batches — this makes just about a cup, and it’s bound to go quickly.

1 tbsp olive oil

1 minced garlic clove

¼ tsp cumin powder

¼ tsp chipotle pepper powder (double if you’d like more kick)

⅓ c dry red wine (I’d again suggest a robust red like Grenache or Syrah)

½ c ketchup

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

⅛ tsp liquid smoke (optional)

Heat up the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium flame. Add the minced garlic, simmer for about a minute (or until you notice the garlic’s fragrance opening up). Add cumin and chipotle, stir lightly, and add wine. Simmer for about two minutes. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, and liquid smoke, and simmer for 2-3 more minutes. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. This can be made a day in advance.

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