One truism in life: Never trust a person who has no idea what liquor to bring to a cookout. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. If you are not a drinker, then you are excused. Just bring several bags of ice; there is always a need for ice. If you are a person who is known for your foodstuffs and that’s your burden in life, well, come lay your burdens down at the cookout free of concerning yourself with liquor procurement. But there’s always that person who brings whiskey in a plastic bottle. Or brings a small bottle of, I don’t know, tequila.
While you don’t have to purchase your liquor from the literal top shelf or buy some Methuselah-sized bottle of anything, at least keep in mind that this is a celebration and gathering of peace and love. Nothing says “I hate peace” like Honeyssy. Save your Canal Street purchases for handbags and chancletas.
So what is appropriate to bring? Glad you asked.
1. ALL THE WATER
Water might not be a liquor, but you know what folks really need when they been drinkin’, they been drinkin’? Water. Especially if you come late. Nobody will be mad that you bring in three cases of water to keep the party going and spleens happy (if that’s a thing).
Where there are more than two (black folks) gathered in the name of cookouts, it is guaranteed that Hennessy is present. And if there isn’t, there should be. Somebody has to make a liquor run. Save everybody the time and just get you a bottle (or two; one personal never hurts) and show up with the Henny. Not all heroes wear capes, but if you like capes, go on ahead and wear it, if you bring the Henny.
2. Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey (or Honey Jack)
Needs no introduction. It’s one of the most reliable liquors of all time. Legend has it that I once fell asleep hugging a bottle of Jack on a beach in Miami. The legend is true. Nobody judges you for bringing Jack to a cookout. Nobody.
3. Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey
Now, if you want to impress folks AND be down for the cause, Uncle Nearest is your bottle. Uncle Nearest was the first black distiller, and his family is carrying the torch. You might not want to put this with the regular stash because folks won’t really know they’re drinking Black History Month; they’re just looking for more of that brown.
4. 40-Ounce Wines
While the consumption of 40s seems to be frowned upon for whatever reason—I personally enjoy a solid 40, myself—the novelty of 40-ounce bottles of rosé or other wines is enough to make you popular, at least briefly. I can’t, in good conscience, recommend that you take a 40-ounce bottle of wine or rosé to the head, but I also can’t stop grown folks from grown-folkin’.
5. Patrón Tequila (or Tito’s)
It’s the breakfast of drink champions. While working in a nightclub for years has ruined the smell of Patrón for me—I literally cannot stand to be around it at all—there are entire communities of folks who drink the shit right from the bottle. And I gag. But you can’t go wrong with Patrón.
6. Cases of Corona or Heineken
Everybody swears they don’t drink Heineken, though everybody will also clean you out of your Heineken if you let them. Nobody really shades Corona, so a case is never a bad way to go. Be a dear, though, and try to buy it cold and get to the cookout as quickly as possible. Heineken tastes DISGUSTING when it’s not cold.
7. Bulleit Bourbon
If you want to change people’s lives, bring some Bulleit and judiciously share it with the important people. They may never drink another brown liquor again. I have people who I put onto Bulleit who thank me every time I see them. Just realize that if that’s your drink, you better get some first because once you put it in the stash and others find the treasure, it’s going, going, goooone!
8. Ketel One, Absolut, Ciroc
People swear they don’t drink Absolut. Everybody drinks Absolut. They sell more of that vodka than almost any other kind. Point is, don’t let anybody shame you into thinking you can’t bring Absolut to a cookout. Somebody will drink it—rest assured.
9. Bacardi Rum
Everybody loves Raymond. And Bacardi Rum. Don’t trust people who don’t.
10. Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey
Congrats! If you bring this, you just sponsored shots for as long as the bottle lasts, and everybody loves shots. Except people who don’t drink.
Drink responsibly, folks.