A Cocktail: Your Crucial Ingredient to Summer Entertaining

You really can’t beat entertaining in the summertime.  It’s not fussy or complicated like having people over for the holidays or Thanksgiving — everyone just piles into the back yard, breaks open a beer and snacks on yummy side dishes while you get your grill on.

A missed opportunity is often in the cocktail arena. Never underestimate how easy it is to impress your guests by handing them a frosty, alcoholic beverage the moment they arrive with the potato salad. Make up a batch of something delicious ahead of time — like Chuck’s Tequila Lemonade (above) — and all you have to do is pour and garnish.

Here are my picks for the hottest cocktails this summer:

You want to drink this.

There are few things as refreshing — or pretty — as Emeril’s Frozen Grapefruit Margarita. The sweet, the salty and the sour… this cocktail has it all. And it only takes 15 minutes to make!

More great margaritas: Spicy Serrano Margarita and Frozen Mango Margarita.

Bourbon Tea Breeze — iced tea, with a kick!

Iced tea goes down really easily, and so does this Bourbon Tea Breeze. Give sweet tea with a Southern kick with a shot of Kentucky Bourbon, and you’ll be whistlin’ Dixie.

More spiked ice teas: Long Island Iced Tea and Coney Island Iced Tea.

Tyler's Mojito Slushy is practically a dessert.

Tyler Florence’s Mojito Slushy is everything you love about a fresh, minty mojito, blended up into snow cone-like slush. This cocktail can easily double as a boozy summer dessert.

We love mojitos:  Wild Berry Mojito and Juicy Orange Mojito.

Sangria, or work of art?

This Tequila Sangria is a beautiful take on the classic. It gets its kick from tequila instead of brandy — mix it up with fruit and juice, then top off with your favorite Spanish red wine.

More sangria recipes: Debi Mazar’s Sangria and Fresh Peach Sangria.

There's a reason the piña colada is a classic.

Bring the tiki bar home with this classic Piña Colada. Fresh pineapple and coconut cream will have your taste buds doing the cha cha.

More beachy blender drinks: Bobby’s Strawberry Piña Colada and Emeril’s Mango Daiquiri.

Heat things up with a spicy beer cocktail.

If you’re craving spice instead of sweet, try a Michelada. Hot sauce and horseradish bring the heat, but brown ale and fresh lime juice help keep things under control. This cocktail is all about balance.

Spice is nice: Bloody Bull and Bobby’s Sangrita.

Perfect for kids: the Horchata is creamy and refreshing.

If you need to keep the kids entertained, make up a batch of Horchata. A favorite summer drink in Spain and Latin America, it’s creamy and refreshing without being too heavy for hot days.

More booze-free bevvies: Virgin Sangria and Agua Fresca.

Whichever cocktail recipe you choose, your guests will appreciate the extra class in the outdoor glass.

Even more Summer Drink and Cocktail recipes right here.