Summer is coming, and so is the booze. Here's our picks for the best Memorial Day weekend drinks for any cookout or party!
Kickoff summer with canned beverages made for sipping poolside and grilling out, then grab a handful of koozies to keep your drinks cold all weekend long!
Memorial Day signals the beginning of long days and more time to spend with family and friends. That’s why this holiday is the best time to crack open a cold one, and cheers with light and refreshing beverages! For endurance over the 3-day holiday, stick to easy-drinking beers, wines, and canned cocktails and make sure to drink plenty of water. Mocktails and specialty sodas also add something different to the cooler, and give everyone a drink to enjoy (like the person driving the boat).
But first, it’s important to take a moment to remember why we celebrate Memorial Day … beyond it being the unofficial start of summer in the U.S.A.
WHEN DID MEMORIAL DAY START?
Surprisingly, Memorial Day dates all the way back to the Civil War! After the Civil War, the U.S. government established the first national cemeteries to honor soldiers who died while serving their country. In the years following the war, people would visit these cemeteries and grave sites during springtime, and take a moment to think of these fallen soldiers.
Waterloo, NY was one of the first towns to close down (starting in 1866) on a day in the spring. Businesses would shut their doors and residents would gather with family and friends, and decorate the graves with flags and flowers. One hundred years later, in 1966, the federal government gave Waterloo, NY the title of the “official birthplace of Memorial Day.” Because this day of remembrance occurs on the last Monday of May, it also offers a great time to cook out and get together with loved ones!
WHAT ARE THE BEST ACTIVITIES TO DO ON MEMORIAL DAY?
Check out your town’s local events calendar to see if there are any parades or Memorial Day happenings in your area. You can also set out a flag or little flags in flower pots to commemorate the more serious part of the day. And of course, if you know someone that has lost a soldier, it’s always nice to know that you’re thinking of them as well. But besides honoring the official part of the holiday, there are a lot of ways to celebrate the first long weekend of summer! Here are just a few ideas …
Enjoy opening day of the pool, take a boat out on the lake, go golfing, hike or bike with family and friends, and if the weather doesn’t fall in your favor — host a brunch party. It gets friends out and about, and you can still make a batch of Piña Coladas or other ideas you had in mind. But whatever your plans are for Memorial Day, make sure you enjoy a potluck-style menu complete with cookies, chips, watermelon, and other easy sides. As for the mains, you can even make a batch of pulled pork in a slow cooker and call it good! Get out the Hawaiian buns and let people serve themselves so you can kick back and relax, and enjoy your drink by the pool …
BEST DRINKS FOR YOUR MEMORIAL DAY COOKOUT
You can’t grill brats and burgers without something cold in your hand! That’s why we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite summer beverages. Pair these drinks with potato salad, watermelon, or whatever you’re enjoying on this 3-day weekend. We recommend setting out a basket of koozies so everyone keeps their drink cold and their hands dry during (hopefully) the first pool weekend of the summer.
Canned Wine with Bubbles
It’s a bestseller for a reason — our Graham + Fisk Rosé with Bubbles and White Wine with Bubbles are the most refreshing canned sparkling wines around (not like we’re biased or anything). Make it easy and grab both with our Summer Bubbles Box! 6 cans of both, 12 cans total. Every can is equivalent to one third of a bottle, so it’s the perfect individual serving to enjoy day or night. This wine is easily enjoyed right out of the can, but if you are busy hosting, pour it into a wine tumbler so it stays cold even while you’re putting food on the picnic table.
Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Rosé Cans
Add a sparkling non-alcoholic wine to the cooler with Surely Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Rosé. It’s the same wine flavor as traditional alcoholic rosés, and perfect for the designated boat driver and those choosing not to indulge. It’s 0.5% alcohol, has tasting notes of kiwis and strawberries, and the can still looks pretty sleek.
While we can safely say almost any easy-drinking beer will work well on Memorial Day, Kona Brewing makes some really good beer. Even if you aren’t on the beach in Hawaii, Big Wave Golden Ale will make you feel like you are. Plus, this beer comes in cans and it isn’t too hard to find! Grab a 6-pack at many big name stores across the U.S. where wine and beer are sold.
Citrus Light Beer
There’s the classic light beers, and then there’s Blue Moon LightSky beer which is made with citrus flavor (just like Blue Moon) and is a little something different to add to your summer arsenal. At just 95 calories per can, and with 4.0% ABV, it’s a light beer you can enjoy anywhere.
Founders All Day IPA
Do you like hoppy flavors, but don’t want a heavy 7.0% ABV beer? The Founders All Day IPA has the same bitter, floral notes of other IPAs and has just 4.7% alcohol. It’s a nice flavor mix-up from the pale ales, light beers, and crushables. That being said, we’ll bet you grab another … and another … dare we say it? Another.
High Noon Hard Seltzer
What makes High Noon different from other seltzers (it’s real vodka and real juice) is also what sets it apart from other options on the market. The flavor is just … better. Try their limited edition Pool Pack for 8 cans that are easy to carry down to the pool deck, and don’t forget to share.
Topo Chico Hard Seltzer
If you love Topo Chico mineral water, you have to try this sparkling seltzer made with their famous fizzy drink. Try all the flavors including Margarita (infused with lime and salt), Strawberry Hibiscus, Tropical Pineapple, and Prickly Pear! These seltzers are inspired by the famous ranch water out of Texas (tequila + Topo Chico), and have that same tequila taste.
Canned White Wine
If bubbles aren’t your style (or you need a break), canned white wine might be your new grab-and-go drink! Here at Graham + Fisk, we have canned White Wine that is crisp and light with medium body. It’s a substantial glass of wine that pairs well with most foods, especially those at a cookout.
Soda Pop with Probiotics
Take a break from the booze and let your gut get back to normal with OLIPOP — a sparkling tonic with probiotics. With nine different flavors including Tropical Punch, Root Beer, and their new seasonal release, Orange Cream, you can take the healthy route and still enjoy a refreshing and fizzy beverage. Find individual cans at Target, and other retailers.
KEEP THE DRINKS COLD
After you stock up on the beverages, dust off the big cooler and get it ready to enjoy all summer long! When you open it, make sure it’s clean so there aren’t any surprises the morning you get your party day essentials together. Clear out any leftover drinks from last season, and wipe up sticky spots with a soap and sponge. Make sure the drainage plug is in place, and then fill it up with ice and your favorite canned beverages the morning of the day.
Last, but certainly not least, remember to pack up some sunscreen, a koozie or two, a big hat, and sunglasses. Then raise your can and cheers! It’s the start of summer.
Erin Hooker is a writer with experience creating wine, food, and interior design content. She began contributing to Graham + Fisk’s blog in 2021.