A Boozy Guide to Grilling With Spirits

Whether you’re in it to grill it only on the holidays or you camp out by the grill all summer long, there’s no doubt that what you’re sipping in the meantime can take it to the next level.

Here we’ve mapped out the seven best tips for sippin’ and grillin’, plus a beer-soaked brat recipe, all thanks to the experts at Colonial Wines & Spirits.


Spirited Grilling:

  1. Spirits are added for inherent flavors and for synergy and the combined effect on the dish.
  2. Pork dishes work best with white spirits like vodka or gin. Pork can also work just as effectively with bourbon, scotch and Irish whiskey.
  3. Chicken is a great match with tequila, rum and gin.
  4. Lamb and game work well with scotch and Irish whiskey.
  5. Spirits aged in oak will impart smoky, nutty and caramelized notes.
  6. White spirits like vodka and gin can be used in place of white wine in a recipe, adding freshness and richness.
  7. Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water. Simmering for 15 minutes will reduce alcohol content by 60% and two hours reduces it by 90%. But while the alcohol is gone, the delicate, interesting flavors that make the difference linger in the finished recipe.

A good rule of thumb: Lighter spirits go best with lighter foods and darker spirits with heartier foods. For example, try using vodka or tequila in a seafood scampi sauce, and use dark rum for a nutty caramel or chocolate sauce.


Beer Brats Recipe


  • 12 bratwurst
  • 4 bottles Sierra Nevada IPA
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper


  1. Preheat and prepare grill to medium heat. 
  2. In a large pot, add the grapeseed oil, pepper flakes, garlic, salt and pepper. 
  3. Add onion and saute until the onions become clear and tender. 
  4. Add beer to the pot and bring to a boil. 
  5. Add bratwurst and watch closely until the boil resumes, adjusting the heat to a very slow simmer. (Remember: Boiling will break the skin, causing much of the brat’s flavors to be lost.)
  6. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, then remove the bratwurst. 
  7. Grill the bratwurst on the preheated grill, turning only once.

Goes great with pan fried potatoes and German coleslaw.

Pro tip: Being careful not to scorch or burn, return the beer mixture to a medium-to-high simmer. Continue to simmer until the mixture is reduced to half or a third of its original amount. Serve as a side with the brats.


For more grilling tips and recipes, visit the Colonial website.


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