5 Classic Summer Cocktail Recipes And How To Mix ‘Em Like A Pro

Ready to DIY something boozy and chill? The most classic cocktail recipes are easy to make, don’t take much, and even if you mess it up you still wind up with a big glass full of ice, sugar, and booze. It’s a win-win scenario. Here’s a rundown on how to make (and then enjoy) five of our favorites:

Image of a The Shaved Ice Daiquiri cocktail from soca raleigh
The Shaved Ice Daiquiri from soca raleigh

Classic Cocktail: The Daiquiri

Let’s start at the top. A daiquiri is easy-peasy — and a more sophisticated cocktail than you think, if the first thing you think is a sort of boozy, Slushee-ish ordeal. And it’s real easy, too. According to the IBA (that’s the International Bartenders Association), a daiquiri is:

  • 9 parts white rum
  • 5 parts lime juice
  • 3 parts simple syrup (don’t have simple syrup? No problemo — just mix half sugar and half hot water together)

Toss it in a shaker with a bunch of ice, give it a few good shakes (about ten seconds should do it), and strain all the non-ice bits into a cocktail glass. You can’t mess it up.

Extra credit: Ernest Hemingway loved all cocktails equally, but he had such a soft spot for the daiquiri that he invented his own. It’s called the Hemingway Daiquiri, surprisingly. According to legend it’s the same thing “without sugar and double rum,” in the big man’s words. You do you, Ernest.

Image of margarita cocktail by Bombay Bistro
Margaritas by Bombay Bistro

Classic Cocktail: The Margarita

The margarita is one of the most essential cocktails, and another one that’s commonly frozen but (we think) best sipped and not chewed. There are a bunch of margarita varieties, but the classic is:

  • 7 parts tequila
  • 4 parts Triple Sec (no Triple Sec? Feel free to mix it up with almost any kind of flavored liqueur. It’ll probably taste great.)
  • 3 parts lime juice.
  • You’ll need some salt and a lime, too.

Prep is a little bit more complicated: Rub a lime on the edge of the glass, then dip the top of the glass onto a plate of salt. Everything else goes in a shaker. Shake all the stuff together and dump it in the glass — it’s OK to keep the ice in this one, so no strainer needed. One complication: According to the IBA, you’re supposed to put the salt on the glass first and then pour so that no salt gets into the drink. Just… near the drink.

Extra credit: There’s a special glass that you’re supposed to use for a margarita. It’s got a little bulb at the bottom, in theory to hold bits of fruit if you’re blending it up. You’re not missing out on anything if you use a regular glass, if you ask us, and you’re just as likely to find one served in something else as not.

Image of a piña colada cocktail from Bello Restaurant
Piña colada from Bello Restaurant

Classic Cocktail: The Piña Colada

If you had “Margaritaville” stuck in your head a second ago and are sick of it, we have bad news (and another cheesy easy listening song) for you.

The piña colada is a little bit more complicated to make, but the ingredients are NBD. This one needs:

  • 1 part white rum
  • 1 part coconut milk
  • 3 parts pineapple juice

Stick ’em in a blender with a bunch of ice and you’re good to go. You’re also good to go if you skip the blender — a piña colada is still a piña colada if you just mix it up and pour it over ice. Here’s the fun part: A piña colada is ideally garnished, and you can garnish it with whatever you’ve got lying around. Pineapple slice? Great. Cherries? Awesome. Both? Best of all. Anything else? We won’t tell the IBA and we bet it’ll taste great.

Extra credit: We take back what we said before. “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” is awesome.

Image of a mojito cocktail at Casa Bella's outside cafe in Little Italy, New York.
Mojito at Casa Bella’s outside cafe in Little Italy, New York.

Classic Cocktail: The Mojito

The next two stops on the train are sort of like cocktail siblings. First up: The mojito. It’s a super-classic Cuban cocktail that will 100% change your life when the weather starts to get a little Cuban. The best part? It’s not super strong, which makes it perfect for afternoon drinking. Unlike the other cocktails we’ve run through, size matters, so get your measuring spoons and cups out. We’ll do some rounding to make life easy on you:

  • 3 tablespoons white rum
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 6 mint sprigs (apparently, yes, it’s gotta be 6)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Soda water

Mix up the lime juice with the sugar and mint. Add a splash of soda water (more than a teaspoon, less than a tablespoon, or whatever your heart desires). Dump the rum in a tall glass full of ice and then pour the mixed-up stuff on top, then add those mint sprigs.

Extra credit: Nobody’s 100% sure where the name “mojito” comes from. Might be from mojadito, which means “a little wet.”

Image of a mint julep cocktail from 5th & Mad
Mint julep from 5th & Mad

Classic Cocktail: The Mint Julep

A mint julep is a lot like a mojito, except some people like it a whole lot better. There are lots of different ways to make one (so there’s also no wrong way), but here’s the classic:

  • 4 tablespoons bourbon.
  • Like a half-dozen mint leaves, give or take.
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  • 2 teaspoons of water.

Muddle the water, sugar, and mint — remember this rigamarole from the last one? This time, do it in the glass you’re gonna drink it out of. If you’ve got a metal cup, more power to you but experts (us) can confirm that it tastes the same in any glass you’ve got handy. Add the ice and the bourbon and stir the heck out of it. Put some mint on top and you’re good.

Extra credit: A mint julep is the other cocktail that James Bond is famous for drinking. He downs one in Goldfinger (1964). More semi-useful trivia? If you’ve got a thousand bucks lying around and you find yourself at the Kentucky Derby, you can order a $1000 mint julep with Irish mint, water from the Alps, and gold leaves mined on an asteroid. (We haven’t fact-checked that last one.)

Too lazy to make your own? Don’t happen to have a ton of mint leaves just lying around in your kitchen? We’ve got you covered. These five classic cocktails are easy(ish) to make and even easier to order on the patio of a bar somewhere near you. Download the Yelp App or visit to find the top cocktail spots near you!

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