Seth Says: Tips for Throwing the Best Labor Day BBQ

In the Washington DC Restaurant Business we refer to summertime as “the slow season,” and interestingly, that comes as a surprise to many people. From the week of July 4th thru Labor Day weekend — blame it on Congress, University holiday, diplomatic diversions, World Bank employee wanderings… or this year, campaign commotion. It’s true: The city slows down, and the restaurants, bars, cabbies and clubs can feel it!

So yeah, summer is slow, but that’s OK because, even as a Restauranteur, one of my very favorite things is a summertime cookout! Whether I am a guest or the host, house parties are a fun reminder of days gone by and a great excuse for some good old-fashioned day drinking!

There will be plenty of these parties around town with Labor Day coming up.  But just in case you are hosting, here are some pointers from a professional to make your BBQ a big success!

  • Have some chill background music on before your guests arrive. Avoid that entrance into an awkward silence…
  • Pick a craft cocktail and supply those ingredients. No need for a crazy maple syrup infusion!   Just buy some herbs, fruit and a mixer that people don’t see everyday. Create a bar area and encourage friends to be their own bartender.
  • Make sliders instead of steaks. Who wants to eat a whole rib eye at a BBQ?! Instead, make finger food so snacks are available sans food coma.  Aldo, have a veggie item — and a non-pork item — for those friends with dietary issues
  • Don’t rely too heavily on Facebook. These days a Facebook invite isn’t what it once was (I end up deleting most without reading the first line, don’t you?!) Text or call in invites, your friends will appreciate the personalization.
  • Don’t start drinking too early. You can still be the “Host/ess with the Mostest,” if you wait until guests have had a round or two before you let yourself dive into the jungle juice.
  • Invite a mix of friends and family. I love when I go to a party and everyone and his brother is there — literally.  Including everyone from grandmothers to little babies is fun, not funny, so don’t be afraid to invite Mom and Dad the big event!

And here are some bonus ‘Chef Seth’ menu suggestions for your BBQ Labor (Day) of Love:

Craft Cocktails:

Moscow Mule: Combine Vodka with the juice of half a lime, and top with ginger beer. Garnish with fresh ginger

Cilantro-Lime Gin Gimlet: Mix your favorite Gin, lime juice, sliced cucumbers, chopped cilantro and soda water.  Garnish with lime wedge or cucumber slice

Finger Foods on the Grill:

Grilled Johnsonville Italian sausages w/ Mustard

Grilled Mini Lamb Burgers with Olive Tapenade

Grilled Steak and Shrimp Tacos

Grilled Asparagus with Truffle Oil

Grilled Apple Salad with Bleu Cheese and Walnuts


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