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Whether you’re yachting, sailing, or relaxing on a dock after a day of pontooning, these easy, breezy boating drinks are made for fun in the sun.
From a nautical pineapple cocktail to a tropical rum punch, these are the very best boat drink recipes to try this summer.
They’re all easy to prepare and require no special bar equipment which means more time to relax outdoors with friends and family.
For Canadian boating enthusiasts like us, getting the boat in the water is the official start to summer. It’s the moment we wait for after a long, cold winter.
Launching our boat heralds the beginning of carefree days outdoors with family and friends.
To kick off this new season of outdoor entertaining, we’ve rounded up the best and most refreshing alcoholic drinks to try this summer.
Be sure to pack lots of bottled water so people stay hydrated. It’s easy to get dehydrated in hot weather.
- Glassware should be non-breakable and stemless.
- While the clear plastic wine glasses from the dollar store might be tempting to use, they’re generally too small and have a tendency to tip once they’re half-full, staining upholstery. They can also pollute the environment if they blow overboard.
- Don’t go Solo at your boat party. The classic red cup is made from polystyrene (plastic #6) which isn’t recyclable (unless you mail it to a special facility). You’ll be adding to the landfill problem as polystyrene takes 50 years to decompose.
- Instead, look for disposable Incycle cups. Not only are they recyclable, these cups made of recycled water bottles can be used for both hot and cold beverages. They also don’t crumble or crack.
- Invest in a set of insulated tumblers for your boat. All YETI drinkware is insulated so it will keep your beverages cold. They’re also dishwasher-safe so clean-up is easy at home. Check out their wine tumblers or Rambler mugs with a wide base.
- Glasses should only be filled three-quarters full.
- Table centerpieces (if any) should be a low arrangement. Wind and tight spaces mean things have a tendency to tip.
- If you have space for a table setting on your boat, a ‘cover’ is a complete setting of plate, glassware, cutlery and linen for one person. The space allowed for a cover should be 20 inches by 24 inches with glasses placed at the tip of the knife. Beverages should be served and removed from the right.
- Opt for disposable or reusable wood or bamboo straws rather than plastic.
- Linen napkins look fancy and have the added advantage of not blowing overboard.
Boating Cocktails and Food Safety Tips
Sail away in the Caribbean on an excursion with Savvy Sailing Charters Grenada.
Boating offers wonderful opportunities for outdoor fun with family and friends. But the hot sun also presents opportunities for foodborne bacteria to thrive.
It’s important to be careful and plan ahead when transporting and serving food and drink outdoors.
- FDA Food Safety Guidelines recommend that cold food be stored at 40 °F or below to prevent bacterial growth.
- Pack food and beverages in separate coolers. Beverage coolers will be opened more frequently than food coolers so packing food and drink separately can help prevent food from frequent exposure to warm outdoor air temperatures.
- I like to use zippered, soft-sized collapsible cooler bags for transporting and storing boating food and snacks. Each cooler bags can be stored under a boating seat until ready to serve. I pack appetizers in one cooler bag, main courses such as meat and sandwiches in another, and desserts in another.
- Garnishes should be washed in advance. Citrus, fruits and vegetables should be pre-cut and stored in resealable freezer bags or reusable plastic containers.
- Herbs should be washed, wrapped separately in paper towels and stored in resealable freezer bags or reusable plastic containers.
- Delicate herbs such as mint shouldn’t be placed directly on ice or freezer packs as their leaves can get freezer burn and turn black.
- Bring bottled water or use tap water from a clean source to rinse dishes, glassware and food if needed.
- Use utensils rather than your hands for serving wherever possible.
Basic Barware and Utensils for Boats
- Use ice tongs or a scoop to serve ice from the bucket. Avoid using your hands.
- The handle of a bar spoon should be at least 10 inches long. Metal or wooden spoons are better than plastic.
- Use a jigger to measure when pouring.
- Pack a bar towel or rag for spills and condensation.
- It’s handy to have a small wooden or plastic cutting board.
- Use a ‘waiter’s friend’ a multi-purpose can and bottle opener with a corkscrew and small knife.
- There are lots of options for trash and recycling receptacles. We spend a lot of time on Rice Lake, a large shallow lake in Peterborough & the Kawarthas, Ontario, and it can get windy in the afternoons. So, I use one trash bin for recyclables and another for trash. Both come with lids to keep insects out.
- BoatMates Marine Storage makes a trash holder that can be permanently mounted on your boat with screws. It uses standard kitchen trash bags.
- Our Bennington Pontoon came equipped with several cup holders that can be moved to suit your seating plan. If your boat needs extra cup holders, you can purchase boat cup holders and other drink accessories from larger marine and boating supply stores. The cup holders are often adjustable and come in chrome, wood or plastic and attach to your boat by suction or permanent screws.
Sparkling Wines, Rosés and Other Easy Boating Drinks
Sparkling wines, whites and rosés are classic beverages to serve at outdoor gatherings, on yachts and at cottage dock parties.
In addition to being a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, wine has the added advantage of being easy to serve on a boat. You basically just chill, open and pour.
But wine doesn’t have to be boring. For one, you can pick a lesser known grape varietal. A memorable Aidani from Greece, a Viognier from Australia or a Godello from Spain is sure to get the conversation happening.
Or, you can spritz it up to make it look fancier:
- Add a few drops of bitters to boost flavour, aroma and colour. Look for handcrafted bitters such as Kinsip’s Hibiscus Rosehip or Mrs Better’s Bitters (made with West Coast herbs) as they’re made of all-natural ingredients. Dillon’s even offers a gift set with a selection of three bitters so people can customize their drink with ginger, pear or cranberry flavouring.
- Add a splash of orange or cranberry juice to Prosecco. Avoid juices with intense colouring. Although I love POM pomegranate juice it tends to stain the pale boat upholstery on our boat, so I save it for the cottage.
- Elevate your wine with some French Elderflower liqueur or syrup. This sweet floral elixir makes a nice summery add-in to sparkling Prosecco.
- Try adding some xtabentún, the golden Mayan honey liqueur from Merida, Yucatan.
Top Tropical Cocktails for Yachting and Boating
When it comes to fun boating drinks, the more tropical and nautically-themed the better when it comes to mixed drinks!
Pineapple, coconut and ginger beer mixers are refreshing and will make you’ll feel as though you’re vacationing on a Caribbean island!
Can’t decide on rum, gin or vodka boat drinks? Go for whatever fits your mood from the list below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you drink alcohol on a boat?
Laws about drinking alcohol on a boat vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In Ontario, Canada you can only legally consume alcohol on boats equipped with a permanent toilet as well as permanent cooking and sleeping facilities. The boat must also be docked or moored.
When heading out on the water, make sure you know the rules and regulations where you’re boating.
Is it legal to drive a boat under the influence of alcohol?
Operating any kind of boat (including a canoe, rowboat or jetski) under the influence of alcohol is against the law. You can be considered legally impaired by alcohol if you appear to be under the influence or if you have a blood alcohol level (BAC) of . 08% g/dL.
Wind and sun can enhance the effects of alcohol on your system. Penalties are the same for drinking and driving as they are for drinking and boating.
Don’t drink and drive! Drink responsibly!
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Dividing her time between Canada, Guatemala and Mexico (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is the founder of A Taste for Travel. Her award-winning travel and food writing has appeared in Lonely Planet’s cookbook Mexico: From the Source, National Geographic Traveler, Fodor’s and 100+ other publications.
Read more about Michele Peterson.