Summer nights mean more time to enjoy the sunshine after work, to get the garden furniture out and sit outdoors instead of in front of the TV in the evenings, and lots of opportunities for entertaining, from barbecues to picnics.
The season's longer evenings make having a post-work drink incredibly tempting when the weather's behaving itself, but pub beer gardens can quickly become overcrowded, meaning you often spend more time queuing for a glass of wine than actually enjoying it.
You can avoid these frustrations by hosting your own summer cocktail party - the perfect idea for the upcoming bank holiday weekends, as you can easily host the evening indoors should the weather turn, unlike the usual go-to barbecue.
Here's our top tips for putting on a successful summer soiree, including a few of our favourite cocktail recipes…
Create a welcoming ambience
Of course, if the weather is beautifully sunny, you'll be able to enjoy your cocktail evening in your garden, giving you a chance to show it off to your guests. However, we all know just how unpredictable the weather in Britain can be, so it pays to have a back-up plan.
Hunt out some fairy lights and perhaps some bunting to decorate your conservatory or kitchen with. Check that your lights are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, and you'll be able to create a magical midsummer ambience with them in your garden too if you're lucky with the weather.
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If you're out in the garden, remember that there'll be another element added to the chatter of your guests and the taste of your drinks, as there will also be beautiful summertime smells from your flowers and plants, and that indescribably gorgeous smell of a warm evening outdoors.
Bring the scent of the summer indoors, and stay in keeping with the theme of your soiree, by placing one of our Clementine & Prosecco Reed Diffusers on your drinks table. It has a stunning summery fruity flavour combined with a little fizz and sparkle, and will add an extra special touch to your cocktail evening - just make sure no one drinks it by accident!
Unleash your inner mixologist
For many of us, Pimms is the taste of summer; it's the taste of Wimbledon season, of picnics and of long, leisurely evenings in the garden. Pimms is arguably best served with lemonade and perhaps a little mint and a slice of fresh lemon, but it also works brilliantly in cocktails, for example, when mixed with fruit juice or ginger beer.
Mojitos are also beautifully summery, especially when you mix up the classic mint and lime flavour with some fresh berries or passion fruit. Adding these ingredients brings a sweeter taste to this traditionally sharp beverage, meaning you can suit everyone's palate.
Make the most of seasonal ingredients, like rhubarb too - extra points if you've grown it in your garden! Add a little rhubarb to a classic mojito, or simply combine your rhubarb syrup for prosecco for a fantastic pink twist on your glass of fizz.
However, the ultimate summer cocktail, and a fabulous retro throwback, is the pina colada.
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Made from white rum, coconut milk, fresh pineapple and pineapple juice, you only have to close your eyes while drinking this to immediately transport yourself to a beach in the Caribbean (almost).
Creative canape ideas
Sticking with those incredibly summery pina colada flavours for a minute, consider incorporating them into the food you'll be serving at your party too. A cupcake decorated with rum-infused coconut buttercream and decorated with fresh pineapple and a striking red cherry would make for a fun twist on the classic drink.
On the whole, try to stick to fresh flavours as much as possible, and bear in mind that if it's hot, light, canape-style bites will probably be best. Small puff pastry squares or mini crackers topped with smoked salmon and a little homemade pesto would be a nice example, as would asparagus spears wrapped in parma ham, perhaps with a lemon-flavoured mayonnaise dip for something a bit different.
Lightly-spiced chicken chunks on cocktail sticks will go down a treat too, and be sure to make a few meat-free ones from roasted summer vegetables for any vegetarian or vegan guests.
Making your own dips, such as a homemade spicy tomato salsa or a red pepper hummus, will also help to make your night extra special, and ensure it remains in the minds of your guests for the rest of the summer.