Summer Entertaining

Summer Entertaining with America's Test Kitchen: Bridget's Back to the '80s Summer Splash

Margaritas will fuel the conversation, and Morrissey will soundtrack the evening. Perfect.

Published July 6, 2017.

Summer has officially arrived, which means it’s time to take the party outdoors. Each week from now until Labor Day, cast members from our TV shows and editors from our magazines will be laying out the details for their ideal summer party, from the music played to the menu to—most importantly—the drinks available at the bar. Today, we kick things off with our inimitable TV host, Bridget Lancaster.


I spent most of my teen summers either submerged in or hanging out by a swimming pool, so my theme is “Back to the 80’s Summer Splash.” Yes the title is cheesy, but so were the 80’s.

The Menu

Illustrations by Emily Phares

Everything on my menu can be made at home and packed to take with you, so you can get to the important things in life, like partying.

Barbecued Pulled Pork on a Charcoal Grill: This dish feeds a crowd with little on-hands work. I cook and pull the pork a day in advance and refrigerate it in a foil-covered, doubled-up aluminum baking pan. On party day I set the pork on the grill grates and heat it over low heat until nice and hot. Toss it with your favorite sauce, and pile on a good hamburger bun (our favorite is Martin's) and lunch is served.

Kentucky-Style Vinegar Slaw: Easy, tangy and sweet. Plus no mayo in the slaw makes it perfect to serve on a hot day.

Dessert: A summer fruit dessert, like Texas-Style Blueberry Cobbler tastes good even at room temp. Even better when topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Cocktail/Beverage: I’ll have three choices at the bar. One: my homebrewed cream ale served ice cold. Two: fresh lime margaritas which counter the smoky, richness of the meal. And three: Dr. Pepper, because it’s the best soft drink, ever.

The Playlist

My playlist includes a good mix of 80’s alternative faves, including The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Blondie, New Order, and The Smiths. Plus a lot of The Clash and Beastie Boys to keep things lively. I’ll also be including a handful of songs from 80’s films with famous pool scenes:

Other Details

Must-Have Tool: If you’re entertaining outdoors on a hot day, it’s a good idea to keep an instant read thermometer around to make sure the food is safe to eat. [Buy Our Favorite]

Strategy: Rent, beg or borrow a space to have your party! Takes the pressure off of having to get your own house in order.

Tip: It’s a pool party, so don’t serve any Baby Ruth.

The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook

This book captures everything from all 18 seasons of the top-rated how-to cooking show. You’ll get more than 1,300(!) foolproof, great-tasting, and approachable recipes; a 55-page guide to our top-rated equipment and ingredients to help you shop smarter; and behind-the-scenes photos that show you what happens before the cameras start rolling.
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What are your summer entertaining plans? Let us know in the comments!

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