Cocktail & Other Recipes Occasion Spring

11 Essential Cocktails for Your May Parties

Fruity and fresh, these lighter cocktails are perfect for the warming weather.

London Lemonade cocktail
London Lemonade Image: / Tim Nusog

As the days get longer and summer draws near, the season starts to call for refreshing cocktails in answer to the warmer days. While this time of year tends to bring lighter spirits to the forefront, there’s a whole host of cocktails that call for just about everything stocked on your bar cart. Whether you want to drink mezcal in a spin on a classic Mule or want to keep it simple with a light and easy gin-spiked lemonade, these are the cocktails that will get you through May.

  • El Chapo

    El Chapo cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Nashville bartender Ben Clemons is to thank for this three-ingredient stunner. Gin joins strawberry-infused Aperol, and low-ABV Stiegl-Radler grapefruit beer helps to bring it all together. The combination of light, botanical gin with its fruity friends makes an ultimate refresher that you’ll want to drink as long as strawberries are in season.

    Get the recipe.

  • Mezcal Mule

    mezcal mule / Tim Nusog

    Switch up your typical Moscow Mule with this variation. Bonus: It’s also perfect for celebrating Cinco de Mayo. As you may have guessed, this recipe takes the typical Mule ingredients of lime and ginger beer and spices them up with a glug of mezcal. Add a bit of passion fruit puree and cucumber, and you’ll have a quaffable drink to fuel all your warm afternoons.

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  • Landmaster

    Landmaster cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Still-strength blanco tequila provides a bracing backbone for aquavit, grapefruit and lime. The real kicker, though, is a dash of potent Galliano, which rounds the drink out alongside dashes of black walnut and celery bitters. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Brown Derby

    Brown Derby / Tim Nusog

    Derby Day may be this month, but this classic cocktail, dating back to the 1930s, is named for a different derby altogether: the eponymous hat-shaped diner in Los Angeles. You’ll want to tip your hat to this simple yet delicious combination of bourbon, grapefruit juice and honey syrup that gets a grapefruit twist as a topper of its own. 

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    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • Spanish Gin & Tonic

    Spanish Gin & Tonic / Tim Nusog

    This take on a classic Gin & Tonic is all about the garnishes, not to mention a fairly spirit-forward gin-to-tonic ratio. Start with a good London dry gin with juniper-forward flavors, add a good bottle of freshly opened tonic, and finish it off with a garnish of juniper berries, lemon and thyme, plus any additional flavors you may fancy.

    Get the recipe.

  • Oaks Lily

    Oaks Lily / Tim Nusog

    This juicy cocktail, inspired by the flavors of a Cosmopolitan, makes a perfect warm-weather refresher. Simply combine vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry and lemon juices, and simple syrup in a highball glass filled with ice and give it a brief stir to combine—no shaking required.

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  • Tequila Mockingbird

    Tequila Mockingbird / Tim Nusog

    Watermelon and jalapeño get muddled together and then joined by tequila, lime juice and agave syrup in New York City bartender Greg Seider’s fresh and fruity variation on the Spicy Margarita, a warm-weather favorite.

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  • Horn of the Bulls

    Horn of the Bulls / Tim Nusog

    Electric-green Midori may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind when you think of craft cocktails, but its melon flavor shines in this drink. So dust off that bottle on your bar cart, add some blanco tequila, pineapple juice and cucumber syrup, plus heavy cream and an egg white for texture, and enjoy.

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    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • Kentucky Flyer

    Kentucky Flyer cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Taking a cue from the Aviation but sans the classic’s floral creme de violette, this combination of rye, maraschino liqueur and lemon juice is a sweet-and-tart sipper that’s exactly what the season’s warming days want.

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  • Bulldog Smash

    Bulldog Smash cocktail / Tim Nusog

    First, there was the Mint Julep. Then came the Whiskey Smash, a spin on the classic cocktail. And now, there’s the Bulldog Smash, a third-generation drink that adds peaches to perfect the refreshing combination of whiskey, sugar and mint, the key to the drink’s juicy flavor that’s amplified with a bit of Cointreau and freshened up with mint to make the perfect whiskey cocktail for porch-drinking.

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  • London Lemonade

    London Lemonade cocktail / Tim Nusog

    For the times when you want a delicious drink but you can’t be bothered to do anything complicated, this simple recipe is here to save the day. All you’ll need is a splash of gin and a pour of lemonade (ideally freshly made, but store-bought is fine in a pinch) to make a delicious two-ingredient cocktail you’ll drink all season.

    Get the recipe.