Celebrate Summer: Cookouts & Cocktails

By Fabiana Santana

cocktails for Memorial DayMemorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start of summer and what better way to celebrate than with food.

Whether you’re most excited to fire up the grill this season or prefer to sip soothing cocktails with your clique all summer long, the one thing we can all agree on is that there is no livin’ like outdoor livin’! The summertime al fresco lifestyle lends itself perfectly to fresh food, friends and lots of fun in the form of first date picnics, backyard BBQs, and poolside parties. A slew of new cookbooks are on hand to help spice things up for you this summer – whether you like it seasoned, slathered or soaked, it’s all the summer reading you’ll need.

Memorable Recipes to Share with Family and Friends

Memorable Recipes to Share with Family and Friends by Renée Behnke.

Renée Behnke has written the perfect cookbook to get you geared up for a summer chock full of entertaining. Each recipe is accompanied by complete menu ideas and ‘do ahead’ tips. A simple Salad Nicoise recipe could easily turn into the inspiration for a French patio party.

Renée, who owns cooking superstore Sur La Table, also offers suggestions for table-scapes and decoration so that every element of your soiree is thoughtfully considered, no matter what size the gathering.

America’s Best BBQ: 100 Recipes from America’s Best Smokehouses, Pits, Shacks, Rib Joints, Roadhouses and RestaurantsAmerica’s Best BBQ: 100 Recipes from America’s Best Smokehouses, Pits, Shacks, Rib Joints, Roadhouses and Restaurants is the must have cookbook for the BBQ lover this summer.  Lip smacking recipes and information on the difference a wood chip makes to a fire, as well as why whole hog cooking is different in North Carolina come courtesy of authors Ardie Davis and Chef Paul Kirk who crisscrossed American in search of the best barbecue joints out there.

The book is broken up not by dish, but by state. A state-by-state list of all the best BBQ joints in the country not only celebrate these restaurants’ finger licking good menu items, but also shares recipes so that you can experience Boss Hawg’s Barbecue Baked Beans without having to haul it to Topeka, Kansas.

Thoroughly Modern MilkshakesThoroughly Modern Milkshakes: 100 Classic and Contemporary Recipes: Summer without ice cream is no summer at all. And summer without a milkshake is simply unheard of. From soda fountain classics to modern mixers like the Mexican Chocolate Shake made with Chipotle peppers, this book’s got it all. Exploring all the pleasures that frappes, concretes and cabinet (coffee blended shakes) have to offer has never been easier, or tastier.The Best Summer Drinks: 500 Incredible Cocktail and Appetizer Recipes

The Best Summer Drinks: 500 Incredible Cocktail and Appetizer Recipes: Cool down this summer with help from what will easily become your new summer how to book. Written by the crew at Bartender Magazine, this book contains 500 recipes for summer cocktails and their perfect appetizer accompaniment. Available in paperback early June, this is perfect book to throw in your beach bag for long summer weekends to ensure that you will always be prepared to bring the party to you.


Sautéed Tiny Tomatoes with Chile Flakes from Memorable Recipes

Sautéed Tiny Tomatoes with Chile Flakes from Memorable Recipes

These tiny tomatoes are the perfect starter to a light Italian meal or ideal for an evening of Italian cocktails – like a Bellini (prosecco and peach nectar) or Negroni cocktail – and small Italian tapas style plates.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow or sweet onion, diced
  • 5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 ½ pounds grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, chives, and/or tarragon)
  • Salt



  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and roasted garlic and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until the onion is tender and aromatic (mash the garlic a bit to help break it up and distribute it evenly).
  2. Add the tomatoes, parsley, and pepper flakes. Increase the heat to medium-high and sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, until the tomatoes are heated through and you see that a handful of the tomatoes’ skins have begun to split.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle with the garlic oil, mixed herbs, and salt. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl or individual plates and serve immediately.

Negroni Cocktail RecipeNegroni Cocktail Recipe

Recipe by Fabiana Santana
Makes 6 servings


  • 6 oz gin
  • 6 oz sweet vermouth
  • 6 oz Campari® bitters


  1. Stir all ingredients into a glass pitcher with ice.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  3. Garnished with a half slice of orange and add a splash of soda water if desired.

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