Make your Labor Day entertaining as enjoyable for the hostess as it is for her guests with this easy-to-prepare and simple-to-serve brat bar.


summer patio party setting under the pergola

Set up tables on a patio or deck—one for buffet-style service and one for sit-down dining. We also included seating around a coffee table on the other side of the patio. Decorate the area with potted and/or hanging plants (see how to make our planter box here). If you don’t already have lighting in place, drape some bistro lights overhead to ease the party into evening.


summer patio party floral table centerpiece

Drape the tables in vintage tablecloths covered in happy colors and patterns. Our color palette of teal, yellow, and red guided our choices for linens. Place a focal point arrangement of cut flowers in a watering can.


summer patio party food bar and dining table

We used our flip-top table as our buffet service table. See how we made it here.


summer patio party plates, napikins and plastic eating utensils

Gather serving items at one end of the buffet so guests can pick up plates/baskets, napkins, flatware and beverage cups in one spot.


summer patio party food bar

Beverages are also located at the service end of our buffet table but can be moved anywhere that’s convenient for guests to grab a refill.


summer patio party drink cooler

We used a vintage copper boiler filled with ice to chill our drinks. It’s big enough to hold lots of options—alcoholic and soft—without getting too heavy to move.


summer patio party brats, buns and condiments

At the far end of the brat bar, we placed the buns, brats, and condiments—offer your guests a choice with three kinds of mustard. The vintage industrial mesh basket holds dozens of buns. Opt for some pretzel buns, too, to mix things up.


summer patio party veggies and condiment for brat making

We like lots of fixings for our brats. Carmelized onions, sautéed red pepper, shredded lettuce, olive tapenade, pickle relish (sweet and dill), sauerkraut, and pico de gallo round out our choices.


summer patio party side dishes

Since man cannot live on bread (and brats) alone, we’re also serving a roasted corn and pepper mix, calico beans, and pickled green beans.


summer patio party 26 assembled brat with hard cider

Try a simple brat with spicy German mustard, carmelized onions, sauerkraut, and dill pickle relish.


summer patio party assembled braut with cold beer

Or opt for a combo that’s more Chicago style: Dijon mustard, sautéed peppers, pico, lettuce, and sweet pickle relish.


summer patio party assembled brat and coke

Give your brat a Mediterranean flavor with yellow mustard, sautéed peppers, carmelized onions and olive tapenade.


Summer patio party table setting

Keep the food and drinks replenished and you’ll have happy guests all afternoon and into the late hours.


frosty coke float in pint glass

Make a grown-up ice cream float for dessert. Here’s how:

Adult Cherry Coke Float

Recipe courtesy Brenda Anderson
Makes 4

What You’ll Need

  • 1 (12 ounce) package of frozen pitted sweet cherries
  • 2 cups Goslings Black Seal rum
  • 1 quart vanilla bean ice cream, slightly softened
  • 4 (6 ounce) bottles Coca-Cola (don’t even use anything else), ice cold
  • 4 tablespoons Cherry Verenya Syrup (recipe HERE), can substitute cherry juice


Patio party materials for coke floats

One day ahead, make the syrup and prepare the drunken cherries by placing the cherries and rum in a large jar with a screw top lid. Shake to coat the cherries. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

Drain the cherries, reserving liquid, and stir into the ice cream. Pat the ice cream into a shallow dish and freeze until hardened.

To Assemble the Drinks:

Patio party coke float

Add one shot (1 1/2 ounces) of rum to each of four tall glasses. Stir in 1 tablespoon of cherry syrup into each glass.


Patio party cherry-vanilla ice cream with frosted glasses

Add two small scoops of the drunken cherry ice cream to each glass.


Patio party pouring a cold coke

Pour some of the contents of each bottle of Coke over. Serve the remaining Coke on the side of each drink.


© Caruth Studio

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