A lot of people think they're great party hosts, but they have no cooler packing skills. Saturday is the official start of summer, so here's a list of six tips to pack a better cooler.
1. Get it started early. You should pack a cooler about two hours before guests arrive. That gives plenty of time for beer to get cold, but not enough for all the ice to melt.
2. Use bagged ice. Don't take ice out of your fridge for the cooler. You'll need it for cocktails later. And the bagged ice is a better size for fitting in between cans.
3. Build layers. Beer cans should go in first, then ice. You keep it more even that way, and you can pack more in the cooler. After that, put in bottled beer, and put wine on the top because it shouldn't be as cold.
4. Pour cold water over the ice. A pitcher of cold water will help cool drinks down faster. For beer the ideal is a slushy mixture.
5. Throw a little salt in the water. The salt lowers the water's freezing point and actually allows the water to get colder. Caution this may cause everything to eventually freeze together if you add to much.
6. Keep extra drinks on deck in the sink, or in a second fridge. When the cooler goes empty, you need to have cold drinks ready to go. No one wants to wait for beer to get cold AFTER they've started drinking.
Bonus from Listener Steve: Put some dry ice at the bottom of the cooler, put some cardboard over top, and then put the drinks and ice on top. Keeps the cooler and the ice cold.