A Cocktail: Your Crucial Ingredient to Summer Entertaining

By: Frank Samperi

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:

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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