Between 2016 and 2019, BBQ slowly but steadily climbed in popularity among restaurant diners, according to industry research. Since then, the interest in BBQ has basically remained evergreen, with 95% of Americans saying they enjoy BBQ and one-third saying they eat BBQ weekly.

BBQ trends include an increased interest in boneless preparations, such as chicken tenders and boneless short ribs, as well as international flavor profiles, such as Korean BBQ. Consumers are also gravitating toward meat that is free of antibiotics, hormones, flavors, colors and preservatives as well as plant-based alternatives such as tofu, tempeh, and BBQ’d mushrooms and vegetables like jackfruit.

When it comes to pairing beverages with BBQ, there’s room for growth in the breakfast space. But the main pairing favorites are still beer, with whiskey a bit behind.

There’s no hard science to food and drink pairings, it’s really more of an art. But by suggesting pairings that work well with different menu items, you can help your customers have a better dining experience while increasing ticket sales. When it comes to BBQ, there are no wrong answers, but some pairings are more successful than others. Here are a few suggestions for how to pair booze with some of the most common types of BBQ.

Pulled Pork

Pulled pork BBQ is one of the most iconic foods of the South, and what better to accompany it than another Southern specialty, bourbon. Try a straightforward bourbon and cola or a bourbon sour to balance the smoky meatiness of the BBQ.

BBQ Chicken

When I think about BBQ chicken, the first drink that comes to mind is iced tea. Give it the adult treatment with the notoriously boozy Long Island iced tea or a refreshing spiked Arnold Palmer.


No BBQ better defines Texas than brisket, so you want a very Texas beverage to match. Try a Mexican-style lager or a hard seltzer that can go toe-to-toe with the fatty cut of meat.

Alabama White Sauce

Alabama white sauce is one of the lesser-known BBQ sauces, but it’s a great one, with its creamy, tangy, smoky flavor. Consider pairing it with a big, bubbly Champagne or sparkling wine to balance the richness of the sauce.

Kansas City Style Ribs

Kansas City is known for its sweet and smoky ribs, and the perfect drink to pair with them is Kansas City Ice Water, a cocktail that combines vodka, gin, and lemon-lime soda, perfect for cutting through those sticky ribs.

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