a pitcher of homemade margarita with a few bottles of corona turned upside down in it, finished with limes and a paper umbrella
Photo by Jack Newton

25 Summer Cocktail Recipes for All Your BBQ Needs

Summer is not the season for fussy drinks that keep you chained to a shaker while everyone else around you has fun.
May 24, 2018, 6:00pm

We're big fans of 'hard' seltzers (and, of course, good old beer), but sometimes you want something a little, well, harder. Summer is not the season for fussy cocktails that keep you chained to a shaker while everyone else around you gets to have fun, lounging on the deck or in the pool with a frosty brew while you frantically hunt for orange bitters.

No, summer is the season for mixing a big batch of something light and refreshing that you can throw in a pitcher and keep in the fridge or cooler all afternoon, so you can sit back and not worry about a thing (other than if you need more chips and dip). This is the time of year to forget about careful measurements and tedious stirring, and to instead make easy drinks that require little more than topping off syrup with booze and seltzer. Here’s some of the best warm-weather, day-drinking-friendly cocktails the MUNCHIES staff will be sipping on this summer for inspiration.

Rhubarb and Gin Cocktail Recipe

Top it off with gin and sparkling wine, and this spicy strawberry and rhubarb syrup turns into a craveable summer cocktail. But if you're skipping booze or just looking for something lighter, you can also top it off with seltzer.

Classic Paloma Recipe

Classic Paloma Recipe

The paloma cocktail, made with grapefruit juice, tequila, and soda water, is like the margarita's less fussy—but just as refreshing—older sibling, and it's one of our favorite summer sippers.

Oaxacan Micheladas Recipe

Oaxacan Micheladas Recipe

This spicy concoction is a Bloody Mary-like beer cocktail that hits the spot when you’re miserably hungover, or when you're just chilling with a plate of tacos on the deck.

Mint Julep Lemonade Recipe

As much as we love a classic mint julep, the addition of lemonade makes it even more summery. Pace yourself, though, since this drink is way too easy to glug down.

Sherry Mojito Recipe

Earl Grey: it's not just for breakfast anymore. Bartender Sam Clements infuses the tea into simple syrup for this riff on a mojito. The result is an easy-to-make cocktail that's even easier to drink.

Tommy's Margarita Recipe

Tommy's Margarita Recipe

Step away from the store-bought margarita mix—which, as we've learned with age, has so much sugar it's basically a one-way ticket to Headache City. Instead, make your margarita from scratch using fresh lime juice and agave nectar. We can't guarantee you won't get a hangover, but it sure as hell feels better to drink.

Tropical Gin Punch Recipe

Gin Punch Recipe

Nationally-acclaimed bartender Elad Zvi made originally this gin cocktail recipe for a single serving, but just look at how beautiful it looks all gussied up in a party-sized punch bowl. Use whatever edible flowers you can get your hands on.

Cucumber Ginger Limeade Recipe

Pick your poison for this fresh-squeezed limeade—gin, vodka, or even mezcal make for a tasty and refreshing summer cocktail with this as the base.

Blue Hawaii Cocktail Recipe

Blue Hawaii Recipe

You certainly don’t have to serve this potent vodka-and-rum cocktail in a hermit crab tank like you might win on the boardwalk—but why not get a little weird with your glassware this summer?

Boozy Watermelon Slushie Recipe

Spiked Watermelon Slushie Recipe

Not only does this watermelon slushie recipe serve a crowd, you can get all Pinterest-y with it and use the hollowed-out watermelon as a punch bowl when you’re ready to serve it.

Guinness Punch Recipe

Guinness Punch Recipe

The bitterness of dark stout balances with syrupy condensed milk in this creamy punch. Then, the whole thing is tipped right over the edge into perfection with an extra splash of overproof Jamaican rum.

Summer in a Cup Cocktail Recipe

Summer in a Cup Recipe

The mint-infused honey syrup that sweetens this refreshing cocktail is what gives it all that summery flavor. Garnishing with a rainbow of edible flowers adds to the festiveness, too, of course.

Lemon Thyme Genever Cocktail Recipe

Lemon Thyme Jenever Cocktail Recipe

Jenever is the juniper-infused national beverage of the Netherlands, and you can think of it as sort of a grandparent to the gin we drink today. If you can’t get your hands on jenever, then a juniper-forward gin will do. No matter how you make this cocktail, you'll want to garnish with sprigs of lemon thyme.

Pisco Punch Recipe

Pisco Punch Recipe

Pisco is a colorless brandy made in South America, but pisco punch as we know it is a definitive San Francisco institution. (It’s such a storied cocktail that it got its own documentary in 2017.)

Beer-garita Recipe

Beer-garita Recipe

What’s better for a summer party than a pitcher of from-scratch margaritas? Well, that would be a pitcher of from-scratch margaritas with some beers tipped into it for extra good times.

Pink Daiquiri Recipe

Pink Daiquiri Recipe

This daiquiri cocktail recipe comes from Katey Red, a born and bred New Orleanian and bounce musician, so you know it’s better than any bottled syrupy mess of daiquiri mix. Get out of here with that nonsense.

Easy Red Wine Sangria Recipe

Easy Red Wine Sangria Recipe

Anyone can throw fruit into wine and call it a day, but what sets this red wine sangria apart from the mediocre stuff is marinating whatever fruit you’re using in brandy and Cointreau for a few hours, which releases as much of those good berry and peach flavors as possible.

MUNCHIES Punch Recipe

MUNCHIES Punch Recipe

Believe it or not, bartenders actually love bulk-store brand liquors. (Here’s why.) So you could go above and beyond and get some top-shelf añejo tequila for this easy cocktail, but the true MUNCHIES way is to hit up your local Costco.

Lunch Box Cocktail Recipe

Lunch Box Recipe

Chicago-based chef Stephanie Izard cautions against serving this beer cocktail over ice, which will give you that awful water-diluted-orange-juice flavor. Instead, serve it really cold—and yes, in a lunchbox if you'd like.

Tarragon in 60 Seconds Cocktail Recipe

Everyone’s garnishing cocktails with skewers of rosemary nowadays, but a highly underrated herb for beverages is the soft but potent tarragon. This punch—with brandy, rum, and prosecco—is still rather mild, with quite a bit of grape juice to cut the alcohol to a reasonable level. Safe to sip for the duration of a backyard barbecue, we’d say.

Absolute Baller Cocktail Recipe

Absolute Baller

With vodka, sherry, and a Brazilian banana liqueur, this tropical and fruity punch turns into basically a giant adult snow cone when you pour it all over a big bowl of crushed ice. This is your new summer party trick.

Daniel Webster's Rum Punch Recipe

It comes as a surprise to pretty much no one that America’s earliest politicians liked a stiff drink. No one seems to know what Daniel Webster’s punch recipe actually was, but this version of the congressman’s drink has enough booze to fully knock you on your ass if you’re not careful. Drink slowly.

Bourbon Punch Recipe

Ivorian Bourbon Punch Recipe

A banana juice cocktail? Just trust us. For the best results, use the best quality bottled banana juice you can find, and combine the turmeric with the citrus juices and honey before shaking this drink.

Gin and Juice Recipe

Gin and Juice Recipe

You probably thought you didn’t need a recipe for gin and juice, didn’t you? You could wing it, but we promise this version is better than just Ocean Spray and whatever gin you have lying around.

Grapefruit and Beer Punch Recipe

Grapefruit and Beer Punch Recipe

There’s a reason why shandies are so popular in the summer: they’re easy and way more refreshing than beer alone. No need to get fancy with some microbrew here—stick with Coors or something like it for a cheap, delicious summer punch.

Prata Punch Recipe

Prata Punch Recipe

Prata cachaça is a liquor distilled from fermented cane sugar juice, so it’s a little funkier and more distinct than sugarcane rum, but you can definitely substitute the latter in this sweet, fruity punch.

Get recipes like this and more in the Munchies Recipes newsletter. Sign up here.