Starting with the marinade, half the fun of barbecue season involves liquids. There's the challenge of how to stay hydrated while operating the grill, of making sauces with liberal doses of liquor and, best of all, of pairing all the grilled treats with fun libations. At barbecue time, even the most hardened oenophile will concede ground to cocktail and beer pairings, so make the most of this lip-smacking season.
With a burger: 'Tis the saison for Belgian-style farmhouse beers, such as Saison Dupont, a summer standard known for its ethereally fluffy foam, light herbal and citrus notes and golden hue. Perhaps the quintessential farmhouse ale, Saison Dupont is the only accompaniment a burger needs. Available in Ontario ($7.75), Quebec, Alberta and B.C.
With barbecued shrimp: Shrimp on the barbie calls for something with zip, namely, a fresh take on a zesty and uplifting classic paloma cocktail, made with earthy tequila, sweet, fresh ruby-red grapefruit, sour lime juice and a little Ting soda for a hint of sweet. Build the cocktail in a tall glass with two ounces blanco tequila, such as Espolon Tequila Blanco, two ounces grapefruit and one ounce lime juice. Add ice, stir and fill with grapefruit soda to taste. Available in Ontario for $44.95.
With spicy grilled-chicken tacos: Wheat beers and Latin flavours get along so well that the pairing is almost clichéd, but Les Trois Mousquetaires Hopfenweisse is breathing new life into an old tradition. The slightly savoury Quebec craft beer complements salsas, grilled meats and queso. Available in Ontario ($7.10), Quebec, Alberta and B.C.
With ribs: Even though pink wines are mostly all grown-up now, the otherwise elegant and subtle Pere Ventura Tresor Brut Rosé Cava finishes with a cheeky adolescent jab – a hint of cream soda. As such, it would be wrong to drink this pale-pink fizz with anything other than juicy barbecued ribs. For $19.95 in Ontario.
With grilled veggie appetizers: Nothing says summer living like a refreshing gin fizz, a good, old-fashioned drink. This dry, tart and slightly modified Diamond Fizz is made with two ounces of a London dry gin, such as Broker's, one ounce of fresh lemon juice, one half-ounce of orange liqueur and a few ounces of a dry cava such as Segura Viudas. Stir all ingredients into a tall glass with cracked ice. Top with bubbly. Broker's Gin, $27.95 in Ontario, Segura Viudas Brut Cava, $14.45 in Ontario; both widely available in other provinces.