How To Give Your Next Summer Party Legs: 5 Creative Cocktails To Set Your Guests Abuzz

From classics like the Gin Rickey to playful potions like a vodka root beer float, this list has something for everyone.

Warm weather is finally here and, as temperatures climb, nothing says “cool for the summer” like bright and flavorful cocktails. While a late afternoon mojito is refreshing no matter the circumstances, the season’s outdoor entertaining-friendly weather practically begs for an accompanying party.

Below, we’ve listed our top 10 ideas for memorable parties—and their corresponding adult beverage—that will keep the kids talking and the parents buzzing. (Each recipe serves four unless otherwise noted; scale appropriately).

Theme: Outdoor Movie Screening
Signature drink: French 75 (inspired by Bogart in “Casablanca”)

Kick off the season with a screening of the classic romance “Casablanca” and enjoy both the stunning visuals of Morocco’s largest port city as well as the honeyed citrus flavor of the tried-and-true French 75. According to Rooftop Film Club, “[Bogart’s] Rick drinks these alongside soldiers, politicians and other exiled Americans at Cafe Americain.” Your guests will soon be boisterously singing the national anthem (and your praises) after a few glasses.

While the classic French 75 calls for lemon juice, gin and champagne, this writer has a soft spot for elderflower, especially in the warmer months. Buy into botanical and make this crowd pleaser by assembling:

  • 2 ounces gin

  • 1 ounce Elderflower liqueur

  • 1 ounce lemon juice

  • 2 ounces Prosecco

Pour gin, elderflower and lemon juice in a shaker and combine. Next, pour the mixture into champagne flutes and top with chilled Prosecco. Serve immediately.

Theme: Ice Cream Social
Signature drink: Vodka Root Beer Float

Ice cream socials aren’t just for the kids, and popular no-frills-all-flavor blog The Minimalist Baker has the boozy root beer float recipe to prove it.

If your home has a shady outdoor spot, set up ice-filled coolers or buckets laden with ice cream and root beer (and, for the less soda-inclined, include build-your-own sundae toppings). If there’s no sun-cover outside, turn your kitchen into a ‘50s-inspired soda shoppe with some Pink Lady-approved specs and include signs to let your guests know to carry their sweet treats outside. Don’t forget to label each ingredient with any known allergens (nothing kills the chill like an allergic reaction).

Since all lactose intolerant folks have to make sure everyone knows it, let it be known that this writer suffers for her art—that is, her inimitable ice cream creations. That said, the following adults-only root beer float will keep the intolerant and the vegan among your crew content thanks to creamy coconut milk ice cream.

The Minimalist Baker’s take on the classic means you’ll need:

  • 2 cans Hansens Root Beer (or other natural soda)

  • 4 tablespoons quality vodka (2 ounces equals 4 tablespoons)

  • 4 scoops cinnamon toast ice cream

One can of root beer translates to two floats (split evenly) and each float calls for one shot of vodka each. Add two scoops of ice cream and top off with any remaining root beer for that beloved fizzy finish.

Theme: Gatsby-Inspired Dinner Party
Signature drink: The Gin Rickey

“There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”

So begins chapter three of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus, “The Great Gatsby.” Since its publication, Gatsby’s infamous parties have become the stuff of pop culture legend. You can throw your own Jazz Era-inspired soirée with the help of the latinate author’s favorite cocktail, the Gin Rickey.

Go full-on East Egg with:

  • 8 ounces Beefeater Gin

  • 3 ounces freshly-squeezed lime juice

  • Club soda or seltzer to top

  • Lime wheels as garnish

Pour the gin and lime juice into a bar glass filled halfway with ice. Mix well then strain into glasses filled with ice. Top each glass with club soda, garnish with lime wheel and serve.

Theme: Wine Tasting
Signature drink: Rosé cocktails

Play sommelier while offering your guests a seasonal variation on the classic red-and-white spread with a rosé-themed wine tasting. Read up on tips and tricks for throwing your own DIY Wine Party and then take inspiration (and recommendations on the best pink drink ever invented) courtesy of blogger Bev Weidner’s Bev Cooks. Finally, turn to this write-up by BRIT + CO and get to crafting.

This writer recommends featuring this frozen watermelon rosé delight for which you’ll need:

  • 8 ounces rosé (Provence-style)

  • 4 ounces vodka

  • 4 ounces fresh watermelon juice

  • Ice

  • Watermelon wedges and mint, to garnish

Combine all the ingredients save the garnish in a blender with ice and pour into four chilled wine glasses. Garnish and then get to mixing and mingling!

Theme: Backyard BBQ
Signature drink: Peach Rosemary G&T (note: recipe serves two)

Imagist poet William Carlos Williams may have apologetically opted for plums from the icebox, but that’s likely because he never sampled this sweetly chilled peach rosemary gin and tonic.

Celebrate the seasonal fruit in 21-and-up style with the following by blogger Suzanne Spiegoski:

  • Two peaches

  • Four rosemary sprigs

  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

  • One 20-ounce ginger ale

  • 4 tablespoons. Rosemary Simple Syrup (1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of wate bring to a boil, remove from heat, add rosemary sprigs, stir and let cool. Chill until ready to use.)

  • 3 ounces Seagram's Extra Dry Gin

“Thinly slice half of a peach. Make ice cubes with them by first adding the slice in each cube before adding water,” Spiegoski recommends. “In a cocktail shaker, add ice, rosemary syrup, lemon juice, ginger ale and Seagram's extra dry gin. Shake well. Pour over crushed ice evenly between two glasses. Garnish with extra peach slices (optional) and rosemary sprigs. Serve immediately.”