How can I host the best BBQ?

27 Jun 2022

Events Food + Drink Summer

Get the grill going and the drinks flowing — it’s barbecue season

There’s nothing better than hearing the sizzle of burgers and sausages against the backdrop of clinking glasses on a hot summer’s day. As the days become longer and warmer, hosting a barbecue summer party seems like an inevitability. But how can you host the best BBQ possible?

Well, at Hotel Chocolat, we like to think of ourselves as experienced BBQ hosts. Just take a look at some of our favourite crowd-pleasing BBQ desserts.

If you’re feeling the heat of party planning, here are some ways that you can host a hitch-free BBQ this summer.

A couple grilling food for the best BBQ

Stock up on summer snacks and drinks

Food is at the heart of every barbecue, so stocking up on scrumptious grub should be the first item on your preparations list.

Best BBQ ideas for your al fresco spread

If you’re a real foodie, you might be tempted to dive into intricate and time-consuming recipes. Of course, if you have the time and energy to spend hours on food prep, go for it. But for the most part, we recommend keeping your catering quick, simple, and stress-free.

Fresh salads, marinated meats, grilled vegetables, and ready-to-serve snacks are sure to please your guests.

Remember, simple doesn’t have to mean boring. Why not take a look at our Cacao recipes for your summer barbecue for inspiration? Featuring cocoa-spiced beef satay and barbecued chocolate bananas, there are some of our favourite sizzling snacks here. Using exciting and unusual spices and ingredients is an excellent way to add a twist to your cooking. We think cacao, with its rich, deep, bitter undertones, is a wonderful way to add flavour to marinades, dressings, and dips.

When using cacao in your savoury cooking, we always recommend using high-quality, cooking chocolate. Opt for a high cacao percentage, anything from 70% to 100%, to ensure you’re adding more rich chocolate flavour and less sugar to your dishes.

For dessert, you can’t go wrong with these Cool chocolate desserts, such as ice cream, torte, and fruit brownies. Most people are familiar with using chocolate in their baking, but it’s still important to use premium, ethically sourced chocolate whenever possible.

Vegetable skewers and sausages on a BBQ grill

Ask friends to bring a dish

If you’re hosting a large gathering, you can easily end up overwhelmed with the number of mouths to feed. To ease the strain of large-scale catering, why not ask each guest to bring a dish with them?

This is perfectly acceptable BBQ etiquette, so don’t worry about sending everyone a quick message. They’ll be happy to contribute to the party.

Get someone on cocktail duty

BBQs and alcohol (in moderation, of course) go hand-in-hand. Get a family member or friend to whip up some cocktails for your adult guests to sip in the sun.

Explore our list of the best summer BBQ drinks — including our Rabot 1745 Rum Sour (a beverage we serve at our Rabot Restaurant), a Cacao Gin Fizz, and an alcohol-free Summertime Spritzer (perfect for non-drinkers or drivers). Alternatively, have a peek at these creative summer drink ideas.

If you’re expecting lots of guests, you could always make a few Gin & Tonic jugs to serve alongside your BBQ food. Our Cacao Gin is a fabulous twist on the classic spirit. Infused with cacao and plenty of botanicals, it’s brimming with notes of chocolate, juniper, and orange. The result? A delightfully malty yet fragrant flavour.

We also recommend our Mango & Passionfruit and Cherry & Raspberry Gins as naturally fruity and fabulously fresh tipples. Mix a few shots with tonic or soda water, plus a handful of fresh berries, to create a tipsy beverage that’s just perfect for a hot summer’s day. 

Create a backyard beer garden

For guests who’d prefer an ice-cold bottle of beer, have some brews chilling in the fridge. Our award-winning Cocoa Beer (suitable for vegans), a dark porter-style ale with subtle chocolate undertones, will give your guests the chance to sample a beer they’ve probably never tried before.

Your garden will soon channel the same laid-back atmosphere as our Great British beer gardens.

Friends enjoying a BBQ and alfresco drinks

Focus on your family and friends

Creating a memorable spread of delicious cuisine can seem like the be-all and end-all of your barbecue, but it’s far more important to spend time with your nearest and dearest. The best BBQ gatherings are as much about the company as the food.

Remember to step away from the grill or escape from the kitchen every now and then. Your friends are sure to appreciate your cooking, but remember, they’ll be there to enjoy an afternoon with you most of all.

BBQ garden decorations

It never hurts to spruce up your garden ahead of a barbecue. Gather as many chairs as you can find so your guests can sit down with their food. Why not decorate your decking with fairy lights for added twinkle? You could even retrieve that woodburner or chiminea from the shed!

You could also lay out a few picnic blankets and lay an aesthetically pleasing table for your meal. If you’ve got little ones coming to your BBQ, finding a few toys, colouring-in books, or outdoor games will certainly be appreciated by the parents.

Attending a barbecue? Here’s what to bring…

We’ve discussed hosting your BBQ, but what about attending one? It’s always useful to hear some recommendations for when you’re a guest, too…

While there’s no obligation to bring anything along to a party, it’s always nice to make an effort and offer something to your hosts — especially if they’re supplying lots of food and drink.

A box of chocolates is the perfect token of thanks that your guests will be able to enjoy after the party. Likewise, a bottle of red wine never goes amiss and you can add it to the table for everyone to enjoy throughout the night.

Have the best BBQ of the summer

We hope you’ve enjoyed these BBQ tips for making the most of your garden soirée. If you ever need more advice on cacao recipes, cocktails, and desserts — you know where to find us. Keep an eye out for our latest blog posts.