There’s nothing like having an open bar at a party to make things lively and easy. But playing bartender is much more fun! Learn how to make a few specialty cocktails, and you’ll impress your guests with your hosting panache.

Sangria

Just the name evokes a lazy summer day. The best part? It tastes even better if you make it the night before, so you can relax during your get-together.

Directions:
In a large pitcher, stir 1 bottle of red wine (preferably merlot), 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of fruit liqueur (orange works great here) and ½ cup of brandy. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add sliced fruit, including oranges, limes, and strawberries. Just before serving, top off with 3 cups of chilled lemon-lime seltzer or sparkling water.

 


 

Bellini

A Bellini is the mimosa’s sophisticated Italian cousin, and serves as the perfect accompaniment to your brunch. Want to really impress your guests: let them know that the Bellini was invented by the then-owner of Harry’s Bar in Venice, and named after the pinky-peach hue in the works of 15th century Italian artist Giovanni Bellini.

Directions:
Pour 2 oz. of peach juice into a champagne flute. Top with 4 oz. of Prosecco. Allow to blend naturally (no stirring) for one minute. Top with 1 Tbsp raspberry juice (optional). Note: you can also substitute peach puree or peach nectar for the juice.

 


 

Lime Margarita

It’s not just for Cinco de Mayo! Margaritas are a crowd-pleaser any time of the year. Although this recipe makes a lime-flavored margarita, you can substitute the juices to create almost any flavor of margarita.

Directions:
First, prepare your margarita glasses. Lightly moisten the rims of the glasses and dip them in salt you have sprinkled on a plate. Fill with crushed ice and set aside.

Next, in a large pitcher, combine 1 ½ oz. of tequila, ½ oz. Triple Sec (or Cointreau) and 1 oz. of lime juice. Add 2 Tbsp of sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into prepared glasses. Ole!

 


 

Chocolate Martini

Who said chocolate was for dessert? Chocolate martinis are a rich indulgence that will wow your guests. Bonus: you’ll look like a professional mixologist when you use your martini shaker.

Directions:
First, prepare your martini glass, drizzling the inside and the rim with chocolate syrup.

Then, fill your shaker three-quarters full with ice. Next, add 2 ½ oz. of half-and-half (cream), 1 ½ oz. of vodka, 1 ½ oz. of chocolate liqueur, and 1 ½ oz. of creme de cacao. Stir and strain into the prepared martini glasses.

 


White Russian

This creamy, coffee-flavored drink is perfect for an after dinner cocktail. Just when your guests think you’re done, you can wow them one last time. Use short glasses to maximize the visual punch of the swirling cream.

Directions:
First, add a few ice cubes to each tumbler. Then add 1 ½ oz. vodka and 1 ½ oz. of Kahlua and stir. Top with 3 oz of heavy whipping cream for the signature swirl. Easy to make, beautiful to look at, delicious to drink.

 


 

Passion Fruit Hurricane

This is the signature drink of the Big Easy – New Orleans. This sweet, delicious cocktail is usually served in a long, curvy hurricane glass, but any tall cocktail glass will do.

Directions:
In a large pitcher, combine 2 oz. light rum, 3 oz. dark rum, 6 oz. passion fruit juice, 6 oz. orange juice, and 2 Tbsp. grenadine. Pour into an ice filled glass. Garnish with orange wedges and maraschino cherries. If you have trouble finding passion fruit juice, you can substitute it with mango or pineapple juice.

 


Moscow Mule

Although it’s named after an iconic winter city, a Moscow Mule is actually the perfect summer drink. It’s cool, refreshing, and oh-so-chic when served in a traditional copper mug. A little trivia for your guests: let them know that copper takes on the cold temp of the drink, keeping it colder longer.

Directions:
Fill copper mugs about halfway with ice cubes. In a large pitcher, combine 4 cups of ginger beer, ⅔ cup of lime juice, and 1 ¼ cups of vodka. Stir and pour into mugs; garnish with lime slices.

 


Tequila Sunrise

Feeling a little landlocked? This cocktail is the antidote. With colors reminiscent of a beach sunset, this smooth drink will have you back in the tropics.

Directions:
Fill a tall glass about halfway with ice cubes. Add 1 ½ oz. of tequila and 4 ½ oz of orange juice. Slowly pour 1 ½ oz. of grenadine into the center of the glass. For visual appeal, let the grenadine sink to the bottom of the glass. Serve garnished with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

 


 

Mojito

It doesn’t get much more tropical than this Cuban concoction. Cool and refreshing thanks to the mint, it’s been around since the 1500s! There are a slew of variations, including a Mexican mojito – simply trade out the rum for tequila.

Directions:
In a large pitcher, muddle together 1 cup of freshly-squeezed lime juice (about 9-10 limes) and ½ cup of mint leaves. Stir in ½ cup of simple syrup and ¾ white rum. Pour over ice, add a splash of club soda, and serve garnished with a lime wedge and mint leaves

 


 

Pina Colada

Smooth and sweet, this classic frozen drink will make your guests feel like they’re at the beach or on a tropical cruise. And that makes perfect sense – it was invented in Puerto Rico, after all.

Directions:
In a blender, combine 2 cups pineapple juice, 2 cups cream of coconut (preferably Coco Lopez), 1 ½ cups of light rum and 6 cups of ice. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour into tall hurricane glasses and garnish each with a pineapple wedge.

 


Mint Julep

This one’s for all of the horse racing fans. What would the Derby be without a mint julep? Host a Derby watch party and serve these iconic drinks to dazzle your fellow race fans.

Directions:
To start, you’ll have to make mint simple syrup. Luckily, this can be done well in advance, even the night before, so you can spend more time with your guests. Combine 2 cups of water, 2 cups of sugar, and ½ cup of chopped mint leaves in a small saucepan. Boil over high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow the syrup to cool, about one hour. Pour through a strainer to remove the mint leaves while still retaining the mint flavor. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least one hour.

Fill short tumblers with ice. Pour ½ cup of mint syrup and 1 oz of Kentucky bourbon into each glass. Stir and garnish with a mint sprig.