Entertaining

Tropic like It's Hot

Spice up your Memorial Day barbecue with jerk ribs and this Caribbean-themed menu
A Caribbean Memorial Day Menu
Photo: Tasting Table

This year, instead of serving burgers and hot dogs at your Memorial Day BBQ (there will be plenty of time for both all summer long), kick the season off with a bang and add tropical flair to your party. Between everyone rushing to book a trip to Cuba and celebrated chef Nina Compton bringing the cuisine of Saint Lucia into the spotlight in New Orleans, the Caribbean is hot right now—literally and figuratively. So break out the floral prints and take your cookout to the islands.

We're talking about a Caribbean-inspired feast, complete with spicy jerk ribs (see the recipe) and Painkiller cocktails (see the recipe). Start off with refreshing chilled avocado soup shooters (see the recipe) before taking a spicy turn with the ribs and a grilled cabbage and mango slaw (see the recipe). Finish the meal on a sweet note with a simple roast papaya with agave and lime (see the recipe).

Think it sounds like a lot? Grab a Painkiller, and we'll walk you through a game plan to knock this out in no time. Now, you could spend about five hours (plus an overnight marinating) tackling everything by yourself, but we recommend inviting over three friends two and a half hours before your guests arrive to help you tag team this feast.

The night before your party, marinate the ribs. Then, three hours before your sous-chefs arrive, get the ribs roasting in the oven, so they can cool by the time your helpers arrive.

Once your team has assembled, here's how to divide and conquer.

The Food

Get the grill going, so you can cook the cabbage and mango for the slaw.

② Put one friend on the avocado soup shooters (they should chill before the party starts).

③ Direct another friend to odd jobs across the recipes, like reducing the rib glaze, making the slaw dressing and getting the papayas ready for roasting.

④ Assign your third friend to bar and tablescaping duty. Ask them to batch the cocktail, prepare the garnishes, set up the bar and set the Memorial Day table, to taste.

The Drank

Painkillers happen to be the perfect cocktail to batch in advance and set up at a bar station.

① Simply multiply the recipe by 16 (for a party of eight, two Painkillers a person should do the trick) and combine all the ingredients in a pitcher.

② Place the pitcher alongside a shaker and bowl of ice, so your guests can whip up their own cocktails.

③ Leave the garnishes out for the final touch: a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, an orange wedge and an umbrella (the latter is not optional).

④ It never hurts to add a little sign with instructions either.

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Game Time

Now you've left enough time for yourself to set up for your other friends.

① People are going to get messy with the ribs, so leave out napkins and a few paper sandwich bags with the tops rolled open for discarding bones.

② Once everyone is present and accounted for, place the papayas in the oven and the ribs on the grill. That way, by the time everyone has thrown back their first avocado soup shooter, it will be time to carve the ribs and dig in.

This menu could just as easily be served for a daytime pool party as a casual evening get-together. And if your friends aren't into Painkillers, hand 'em a cold beer or glass of Riesling (the perfect wine pairing with spicy Caribbean food), and ask them to reconsider that pineapple, coconut and rum cocktail.

With a Caribbean cookout like this, you may have 99 problems, but a beach ain't one.

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