53 Spirited Cocktail Recipes To Start The Party

Salty Dog Cocktail
Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Every Southern hostess needs a signature cocktail recipe in her repertoire, and we've gathered our all-time favorites for you. With our best cocktail recipes, you won't just find one signature cocktail recipe—you'll find a signature cocktail recipe for every season, event, holiday, dinner party, and tailgate. With cozy fall cocktails like our classic Hot Toddy, you'll be prepped for game day and beyond. With refreshing summery cocktails like our Mint Julep Slush or Watermelon Sangria, your porch parties will never be boring. Raise a glass and celebrate with our elegant Champagne cocktails like the French 75, or kick it casual with our Raspberry Beer Cocktail or Big Batch Bloody Marys. Instead of setting out wine and beer the next time you host, refer to this incredible list of cocktail recipes to shake up your night. These are the best cocktails to quench your thirst and generate party buzz.

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Blackberry Bramble Pisco Sours

Blackberry Bramble Pisco Sours
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Mary Clayton Carl; Food Stylist: Tina Stamos

Pisco is a South American grape brandy popular in Peru and Chile. If you can't find it in your area, feel free to substitute white tequila, grappa, or vodka. Don't be alarmed by the strength of this new classic; it's a cocktail that's meant to be sipped and savored.

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Mint Julep

Mint Julep
Southern Living

A hallmark Southern cocktail, we always have the ingredients for a mint julep handy. This drink used to be made with rum, distilled by New England settlers, before bourbon became established in the South. For a refreshing cocktail, mix good bourbon, fresh mint, powdered sugar, and crushed ice and chill for 15 minutes before serving. 

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Moscow Mules

Moscow Mules
Jennifer Causey

Served in a copper mug, this classic cocktail will keep you cool all summer long. Created in the 1940s, the refreshing mixture of vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice has long-lasting appeal. With just three ingredients, quality is key—use fresh limes, good vodka, and non-alcoholic ginger beer.

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French 75

French 75
Southern Living

This timeless cocktail recipe is dressy enough for a fancy dinner party but easy enough for a sunset drink on the porch. After shaking and straining lemon juice, simple syrup, and gin into a glass, top with bubbly and garnish with lemon peel and a sprig of rosemary. This elegant cocktail takes just 5 minutes to make and is enjoyable whether winter, spring, summer, or fall.

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Cherry Bourbon Cheerwine

Cherry Bourbon Cheerwine
Becky Luigart Stayner

This cocktail mixes two all-time Southern favorites—bourbon and Cheerwine. This extra spunky cherry coke cocktail is delightful to look at as it is to drink—cherries and cherry bitters create the deep rosy hue and it’s topped with a fun cherry-and lemon slice garnish. If you’re making a big batch of these, try cherry-lemon-infused bourbon to punch up the flavors even more.

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Pitcher Mojitos

Pitcher Mojitos
Caitlin Bensel

Don't fuss with the cocktail shaker all night when you're hosting. Whip up a batch of pitcher mojitos and enjoy the party yourself, too. For the juiciest limes—you’ll need 8 for this recipe—pick ones that are tender, harder limes tend to be be dry on the inside.

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Berry Patch Cocktail

Berry Patch Cocktail
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Margaret Monroe Dickey; Prop Styling: Christina Daley

Elderflower liqueur and gin provide a floral, lofty contrast to the tangy limeade and fresh raspberries in this sensational sipper. No need for simple syrup, muddled fresh raspberries yield plenty of sweetness and a vibrant red color to the drink.

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Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned Cocktail
Southern Living

We put a slight twist on this old-school cocktail to make it more approachable for a crowd. The classic Old Fashioned is transformed into a summery version with lemon-lime soda, crushed ice, and a sweet citrus syrup. Garnish to draw out acid flavors with orange rind curls or sweetness with maraschino cherries.

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Aperol-Bourbon Fizz

Aperol Bourbon Fizz
Becky Luigart Stayner

A fresh orange peel twist is the prettiest garnish for this festive cocktail. If you plan to serve this as a signature cocktail at a party, have the recipe framed at the bar, so guests can mix one themselves if they opt too. To enhance the fresh, sweet zip of citrus with each sip, rub the cut edge of the orange peel twist around the glass rim.

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Watermelon Sangria

Watermelon Sangria
Katie Jacobs

This big-batch summer cocktail is our new favorite way to cool off. Fresh watermelon juice, rosé, and rosé Champagne create the gorgeous blush color of this drink. Enjoy poolside, on the porch, or at the beach.

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Vodka Cherry Limeade

vodka cherry limeades in glasses on a tray
Photographer: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist:Christine Keely; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer

When the summer is hot, the drinks should be easy. This five-ingredient limeade is so easy to make, you can easily scale it up to serve a crowd. This sweet and tart tasting cocktail looks like a sunset in a glass.

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Frozen Margarita

Frozen Margarita
Antonis Achilleos

Taco Tuesday just got a lot more fun. Frozen limeade, silver tequila, orange liqueur, a touch of orange juice, and 8 cups of ice blend into an adult slushy. Serve in lime-rubbed, salt-rimmed glasses garnished with a lime slice.

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Hot Toddy

Hot Toddy
Micah A. Leal

This classic cocktail will soothe a sore throat and warm you up on cold winter nights. Keep this recipe on hand when a natural remedy is just what you need. The medicinal properties of this warm drink include antioxidant-rich black tea, anti-inflammatory cinnamon, throat-coating honey and lemon, and congestion-alleviating bourbon.

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Milk Punch

Milk Punch

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Milk punch hails from the legendary New Orleans establishment Brennan's Restaurant, open in the French Quarter since 1946. A lighter version of eggnog, it’s a creamy, boozy holiday cocktail flavored with vanilla and nutmeg. Shake and strain either neat in a chilled coupe glass, or over ice in a chilled Old Fashioned glass, add a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.

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Lavender-Plum Shrub

Lavender-Plum Shrub
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl; Food Styling: Torie Cox

If you've never tried this old-fashioned cocktail, it's the ultimate make-ahead drink before a party since it needs time to chill for the flavors to combine. Shrubs are made from combining vinegar, sugar, and fruit, and need a few days for the flavors to meld to create a sweet, fruit-infused, drinkable vinegar. When your lavender plum shrub is ready, mix it with bourbon or rye whiskey and club soda over ice.

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Big-Batch Bloody Marys

Big Batch Bloody Marys
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

If you're hosting brunch, there's no better way to serve drinks than with a favorite pitcher recipe. The tomato juice mixture can be made up to two days in advance, just add the vodka before serving. Set up a DIY bar with glasses, a bucket of ice, and garnishes of your choice to accompany your Big-Batch Bloody Mary mix.

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Watermelon-Ginger Mojitos

Watermelon-Ginger Mojitos
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

This incredibly refreshing pitcher drink has fresh mint and summer watermelon. Ginger beer provides a spicy kick, but for something milder, use ginger ale. Make the mint simple syrup up to two days in advance for easier prep.

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Basil Bourbon Orange Smash

Basil Bourbon Orange Smash
Becky Luigart Stayner

This citrusy cocktail is oh-so-refreshing regardless the season. Smashes combine a liquor base with fresh, seasonal fruits, all smashed together over crushed ice. Muddle bourbon, basil simple syrup, and orange juice and wedges to create the smashed base for this delicious drink.

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Summer Cobbler Cocktail

Summer Cobbler Cocktail
Helen Norman; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: Marian Cooper Cairns

This refreshing cocktail makes use of those summer blackberries you've been picking up at the farmers' market each weekend. This is a whiskey drink but by using light and fresh white whiskey, this wintery spirit shows its summery side. Instead of the typical simple syrup, blackberry preserves provides the sweetness.

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Bourbon and Hard Pear Cider Cocktail

Bourbon Pear and Hard Cider Cocktail
Becky Luigart Stayner

Apple cider is everywhere during the fall, so this pear cider cocktail will be unique when you host. For the smooth and sweet edge for this bourbon cocktail, there are two simple syrups —a sugar-based one and a honey-based one—that take 35 minutes and can be made ahead. Combine and shake the bourbon, simple syrups, and lemon juice, strain into a glass, and top with pear cider—then it’s time to sip and celebrate the fall season.

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Mojitarita Cocktail

Mojitarita
Katie Jacobs

Can't decide between a mojito and a margarita? This so-fresh cocktail combines the best of both. Fresh mint from a mojito and tart lime juice from a margarita combine with silver tequila, granulated sugar, and sparkling water for a light, refreshing mashup of two favorite cocktails.

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Sparkling Punch

Sparkling Punch
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Every shower needs a pretty punch bowl filled with a crowd-pleasing recipe. The base recipe mix of white cranberry juice and pink lemonade is non-alcoholic for mamas-to-be, but it can be turned into a buzzy punch by swapping club soda with Champagne (or sparkling wine) and orange liqueur. Garnish with mint sprigs for a preppy pink-and-green presentation.

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Bee's Knees Honey Cocktail

Bee's Knees Honey Cocktail
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Cat Steele

This cocktail recipe dates all the way back to Prohibition, and there's a reason it's stuck around our bar carts all that time—it truly is the bee's knees. The best part? It’s a three-ingredient drink that takes 5 minutes to make. Combine, shake, and strain gin, honey, and fresh lime juice, and let the sipping begin.

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Mint Julep Slush

Mint Julep Slush
Caitlin Bensel

What do we do when we love a cocktail recipe? Make it into an icy slush so we can drink it on even the hottest summer day.  Bourbon, fresh mint, and simple syrup blend with 3 cups of ice to make this frosty adult treat.

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Spiced Orange-Bourbon Punch

Spicy Bourbon-Citrus Punch
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Torie Cox

For a fresh take on holiday punch to serve a crowd, try this Christmas-in-a-bowl full of ginger and spice and everything nice. Spicy ginger is balanced by sweet orange and lemon juice. Before serving, add orange slices to the punch bowl for garnish.

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Spiked Arnold Palmer

Spiked Arnold Palmer
Ralph Anderson

Spice up your party with this spirited version of the classic lemonade-sweet tea combo. Spiked with bourbon, this big batch cocktail will cool and refresh guests by the pool or on the porch. To prep for your party, this hard tea lemonade can be made a day ahead.

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Whiskey-Apple Cider Punch

Whiskey-Apple Cider Punch
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

With a yield of 10 servings, there's plenty for everyone at the tailgate to enjoy this fall cocktail. This fall ambrosia of sweet and tangy flavors blends cranberries, apple, lemon, honey, brown sugar, and bourbon. Let the punch meld by chilling for 1 to 8 hours before serving.

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Watermelon Margaritas

Watermelon Margaritas On The Rocks
Southern Living

This watermelon margarita recipe might be the only margarita recipe we ever make again. The watermelon is the star in this cocktail, so make sure to pick a good one. For a sweet and balanced tasting fruit, use a seedless watermelon that feels heavy for its size and has a pale yellow spot where the melon rested as it soaked up the sun, if it's green all over, it's probably not quite ripe.

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Big Batch Bourbon Ginger Ale Punch

Big Batch Bourbon Ginger Ale Punch
Caitlin Bensel

You don't need to be a professional mixologist to whip up a delicious party punch that serves a crowd. Punch and pitcher cocktails are a great way to serve a signature drink to guests beyond wine and beer, and this one takes 5 minutes and uses five ingredients. With time and effort freed up, it's time to mix and mingle with your guests!

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Spiced Hard Cider Fizz

Spiced Hard Cider Fizz
Becky Luigart Stayner

This fall cocktail would make a great pre-Thanksgiving dinner drink to welcome guests in. Club soda and hard apple cider add fizz to this festive apple, bourbon, lemon, and spice combination. Mix ingredients and serve immediately to enjoy this drink at its fizziest.

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Gingered Toddy

Gingered Toddy in clear glass

Frederick Hardy II; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Stylist: Mat Gibilisco

Nothing’s more comforting than a warm and soothing Hot Toddy on a chilly night. Whiskey is swapped with Bourbon for a Southern take, and lemon juice, orange bitters, star anise, and ginger-honey simple syrup infuse this cocktail with citrus, sweetness, and spice. Whole star anise adds a licorice-flavored twist, and it looks pretty, along with a lemon peel twist, as a garnish too.

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Pineapple-Sweet Tea Punch

Pineapple-Sweet Tea Punch
Johnny Autry; Prop and Food Styling: Charlotte L. Autry

Pineapple simple syrup and lime juice gives this version of sweet tea a tropical twist. Serve as is or spike with vodka. To ease with party planning, make the simple syrup and tea ahead up to two days in advance, and add lime juice and vodka just before serving.

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Rum Swizzles

Rum Swizzles
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Thom Driver; Food Stylist: Tina Stamos

Close your eyes and picture Bermuda as you sip this fruity and tropical cocktail. The Rum Swizzle is often called "Bermuda's national drink," and we can see why. Shaved ice, light rum, fresh lime juice, sugar and Angostura bitters are whisked until foamy and garnished with fresh citrus and mint.

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Sweet Tea Mule

Sweet Tea Mule
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Add bourbon, ginger beer, and lime juice to this sweet tea for a refreshing and light cocktail. Perfect to offer friends on a summer afternoon, this batch cocktail serves 8. With just five ingredients and 5 minutes to blend, you'll be sipping this spiked tea in no time.

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Cucumber-Honeydew Cooler

Cucumber-Honeydew Cooler
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Cool as can be, this green drink is slightly sweet and hits the spot. Juice from blended and strained cucumber and honeydew melon is mixed with a floral gin and served with ice. Swap the gin for lime seltzer water for a mocktail version.

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Pink Cadillac Margaritas

Pink Cadillac Margarita Cocktail
Jennifer Davick

Make several batches of these fun margs 3 to 4 hours before the party, and chill in fun bottles or pitchers. The pretty pink hue come from orange liqueur and cranberry juice. These girly margaritas have a sweet edge—rub rims of chilled glasses with a lime wedge, dip in a saucer of coarse salt and sparkling sugar, and twirl to coat.

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Shoo-Fly Punch

Shoo-Fly Punch
Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Ginger liqueur, ginger beer, a touch of bitters creates a spicy but refreshing bourbon cocktail. Serve in mason jars for a casual summer gathering. Garnish with fresh mint and orange slices for a bright, citrusy finish,

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Cranberry Mojito

Cranberry Mojito
Photo: Iain Bagwell

Introduce the tart fall flavor of cranberries to your favorite minty cocktail. The cranberry reduction in these mojitos is a versatile mixer for other seasonal cocktails like a holiday cosmo. Shake and strain over ice, top with lemon-lime soda, and garnish with fresh mint and lime slices.

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Frosted Cranberry Kir Royale

Frosted Cranberry Kir Royale

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

A classic Kir Royale—simply Champagne and creme de cassis—has a holiday moment with cranberry touches. Cranberry simple syrup, cranberry juice, and a sugared cranberry-garnish creates a sweet-tart, fizzy red cocktail that couldn’t be more festive. Serve in elegant Champagne or coupe glasses and make a toast to all that’s merry and bright.

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Mississippi Mudslides

Mississippi Mudslides
Becky Luigart-Stayner

A little bourbon makes these mudslides perfectly rich and flavorful. For a dramatic and delicious effect, use a small kitchen torch to brown the marshmallows topping. This indulgent ice cream drink will cool you down quickly.

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Apple-Pie Infused Bourbon

Apple-Pie Infused Bourbon
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Turn a plain bottle of hooch into a top-shelf indulgence, infused with sweet autumn flavor. Enjoy apple-pie bourbon on the rocks or with sweet tea. This recipe includes an adaption for Orange-Clove-and-Cranberry-Infused Bourbon for something citrusy and spicy.

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Spiced Apple Spritz

Spiced apple spritz in three glasses on tray

Frederick Hardy II; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Stylist: Mat Gibilisco

Charleston, South Carolina, mixologist Miguel Buencamino invented this cocktail with an everything-fall flavor profile of warm spices, Jamaican rum, lemon, sparking apple cider, and Demerara sugar. Demerara sugar has toffee and caramel notes while cinnamon, clove, and star anise adds bold fall spice. This recipe is versatile as a flavorful mocktail by not adding rum.

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Honeysuckle-Watermelon Cocktail

Summerttime Cocktail
Chris M. Rogers

We used Mississippi's Cathead Honeysuckle Flavored Vodka to give the cocktail a delicate floral note, but plain vodka works too. Blended and strained watermelon creates the fresh juice mixer. This summer sipper serves 8 and is even more appealing garnished with lime slices, diced watermelon, or mint leaves.

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Strawberry Margarita Spritzers

Beer 'Garitas
Becky Luigart-Stayner

Club soda, fresh whole strawberries, and frozen daiquiri mix create fizzy and colorful margaritas. This blender drink takes 10 minutes and provides a pitcher-sized portion. Serve on a hot, summer night when something light, sweet, and fizzy is called for.

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Mint Julep Sweet Tea

Mint Julep Sweet Tea
Jennifer Davick

Two classic Southern drinks—the mint julep and sweet tea—merge for a drink made for sipping on a hot and humid night. Mint, sweet tea, lemon, bourbon, and crushed ice make a pitcher-perfect drink that takes 10 minutes of hands-on time. Find your nearest rocking chair on a front porch, and enjoy.

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Retro Rum Punch

Southern Lemon Americano
Photo: Hector Sanchez

We love bringing back vintage recipes, and we're getting out Grandma's punch bowl to make this fruity cocktail ASAP. Pineapple and cranberry juices, two different rums, and ginger beer (or ale) mix together quickly and easily. Serve on your buffet on card night and enjoy sipping while playing rounds of bridge with friends.

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Raspberry Beer Cocktail

Raspberry Beer Cocktail
Charles Walton IV

This big-batch cocktail can be made up to three days in advance to help you with poolside party prep. Raspberries, raspberry lemonade, beer, and vodka mix into a light, fruity, and fizzy punch. Garnish with lemon and lime slices for a citrus twist.

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Montgomery Punch

Montgomery Punch
Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

If you found a recipe in a vintage junior league cookbook, you know it's bound to be amazing. In Montgomery, Alabama, punch is a town staple, and this festive, Champagne punch will create an instant holiday mood. This punch recipe also includes a fruit ice ring that's both pretty and functional.

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Partridge In A Pear Tree Cocktail

Partridge In A Pear Tree Cocktail

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox 

This cheeky holiday version of a classic Old Fashioned will have you humming The Twelve Days of Christmas. Pear brandy, bourbon, lemon juice, thyme simple syrup, and a dash of Angostura bitters blend into a beautiful and delicious Christmas cocktail. This recipe for one can scale up to your number of guests—just batch and chill ahead before the party begins.

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Sparkling Cherry Limeade

Sparkling Cherry Limeade
Iain Bagwell; Prop Styling: Annette Joseph; Food Styling: Cynthia Groseclose

This pretty cocktail just reminded us: It's about time for a girls' night! Add tequila and orange liqueur to turn this cheerful, cherry limeade into a cheeky margarita. Make these sparkle by topping them off with fizzy water and garnish with lime slices and maraschino cherries.

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Texas Ranch Water

Texas Ranch Water
PHOTOGRAPHER: FRED HARDY II, FOOD STYLIST: EMILY NABORS HALL, PROPS STYLIST: CHRISTINA BROCKMAN

Hot, steamy nights call for hydrating with Texas Ranch Water—a light, simple drink that's easy to make. Texas Ranch Water is simply blanco tequila, lime juice, and Topo Chico mineral water. The beauty of this cocktail is it's incredibly versatile—adjust the amount of tequila to taste, add a salty rim, swap plain for grapefruit or lime-flavored Topo Chico, or add a splash of Grand Marnier—but sometimes an unfussy drink is all you need.

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Pomegranate Margarita

Pomegranate Margaritas in clear margarita glasses

Antonis Achilleos; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

The Southern Living Test Kitchen recreated this recipe inspired from fond memories of happy hours past. And we can see why, pomegranate compliments a classic margarita beautifully into a sweet-tart festive cocktail. Pomegranate juice and pomegranate liqueur are added to the foundational trio of tequila, lime, and orange liqueur—serve in a salty-sweet rimmed glass garnished with lime wheels and pomegranate arils. 

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Salty Dog Cocktail

Salty Dog Cocktail
Caitlin Bensel

Don't let this cocktail's pretty color fool you: It's not one of those too-sweet drinks. Use freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruits for a pink-hued drink. Refreshing and slightly tart, this simple cocktail recipe will be a hit with every party goer.

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