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32 festive 4th of July drink and cocktails for your backyard bash

Time to get red, white and boozy.
Elizabeth Heiskell
Nathan Congleton/TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Does anyone else try to fit a whole summer's worth of activities into the 4th of July long weekend? Sunbathing, lawn games, swimming, barbecuing, bonfires, fireworks — we believe a holiday this celebratory calls for an equally-epic cocktail.

Feeling extra patriotic? Play up the red, white, and blue holiday uniform with fruity, layered gelatine shots or a flavorful, tri-colored margarita. These themed sips are a party planner's best friend, as they double as festive bar decor, too.

If you exhausted the red, white, and blue theme last year, put your own spin on this upcoming 4th of July celebrations. Ditch tradition and get creative with fun takes on summer staples. Lemonades, sangrias, spritzers — we're reinventing these seasonal sips so your weekend feels extra special.

In the spirit of thinking outside the box, who says drinks need to be drinkable? The summer heat calls for frozen everything — and if that means preferring your champagne in popsicle form, then, by all means, have some fun.

Hosts, we've already given you lots to consider. Since you have some planning to do, we've decided to lend an extra hand by packing our recipes with bartender tips and tricks. We're sharing incredible spices that aim to elevate, a hack for keeping drinks cool (without watering them down!) and our favorite garnish go-tos.

Build your bartender’s kit with a muddler, jigger, shaker, blender and pitcher, and start mixing up these beverages. No matter which cocktails or drinks you choose, we can promise your guests will pledge their allegiance to the hostess after one taste.

When it comes to patriotic drinks, these festive margaritas don’t disappoint. The stacked frozen flavors look amazing and taste great, too. Each layer features a different flavor — strawberry, blueberry and coconut — for a refreshing sip.

Carson's Red, White and Bourbon

Fresh and fruity, our own Carson Daly’s patriotic cocktail recipe is the perfect boozy thirst quencher for your sun-soaked barbecue. It features a handful of basic ingredients such as grapefruit soda, citrus juices, simple syrup and bourbon. Play up the garnishes by tossing in red and blue berries, and finish the look with a 4th of July paper straw.

Aperol Spritz

An Aperol Spritz is the perfect beverage for those who lean away from super sweet cocktails. This Italian staple offers a bittersweet taste from Aperol liquor that’s balanced with prosecco and soda water. The beverage’s signature sunset hue is a nice summery touch, too.

Cherry Sangria

Take advantage of seasonal produce when making a batch of fresh cocktails. The base ingredients of this recipe — white wine and Amarena cherry syrup — aren’t necessarily season-specific, but the add-ins are. We suggest tossing a mixture of sweet cherries, apricots and peaches into the batch.

Mix up an adult-friendly batch of lemonade to refresh your palate between pasta salad and burger bites. Thai basil adds a fragrant twist to your lemonade — sip that as is, or top it off with a splash of sparkling water and some vodka.

Mermaid Limeade

Sipping this Caribbean blue cocktail is the best way to trick your mind into thinking you're on a tropical vacation. Make it alcoholic by adding coconut rum and blue curaçao, or opt for a nonalcoholic batch with coconut soda and blue food coloring. Better yet, serve both versions so everyone in the crowd has something to enjoy.

Rum punch is a summer staple, making this easy cocktail recipe a must-try. Sandra Lee’s take is fair game for vodka, tequila and gin lovers. We’re not suggesting you use all these alcohols simultaneously, but feel free to swap in whichever you prefer.

Red, White and Blue Sparkling Sangria

Don’t spend time in the kitchen or behind the bar throughout your 4th of July party when you could be spending time with guests. That’s what big-batch cocktail recipes are for. This one dresses up an entire bottle of sparkling wine with seltzer, fresh berries and peach brandy. Bonus: This sangria doubles as bar decor for the beautiful day.

Champagne Popsicles

The 4th of July is a celebration after all, so why not serve up something worthy of the occasion? Champagne popsicles are a crafty take on a sophisticated flute. Make popsicles using fresh fruit and a bottle of bubbly for a refreshing snack.

Frozen Watermelon Mojito

No summertime picnic is complete without watermelon — this year, we suggest serving it in the form of a frothy mojito. The best part: This sweet and refreshing cocktail is essentially an adult slushy, thanks to a generous splash of rum.

Ina Garten's Classic Daiquiri

Ina Garten is a legend, and so is her Classic Daiquiri recipe. If this beverage is good enough for her to serve in the Hamptons all summer, it’s more than good enough for us.

Sangria Lemonade

This 2-in-1 cocktail is the ultimate combination of two summer essentials. Tart yet sweet, this chardonnay- and- lemonade-based sip is the perfect complement to a hot summer day.

Bright Spirit

Sometimes the simplest things are the best like this cocktail, which is essentially an elevated vodka soda. Just freshen things up with raspberry liquor, a touch of lime juice and fresh mint.

Watermelon Frosé Cocktail

Watermelon Frosé may sound super sweet, but this recipe balances the flavors of rosé wine by incorporating a touch of bitter Campari and fresh lemon juice. This recipe serves four but don’t be surprised when there’s demand for a second batch.

Fresh Raspberry Margarita

Break out your muddler — we’re taking full advantage of raspberry season. Raspberry liqueur helps embolden the sweet twist on this classic tequila lime cocktail.

Paradise Frosé

Don’t be deterred by the bubblegum pink color of this frosé. It’s not too saccharine, thanks to the use of a dry rosé, lemon juice and vodka.

Firecracker Gelatine Shots

Does a gelatine shot take you back to college? Before you pass up one of these festive shots, keep in mind that this recipe features three delicious flavors — vanilla, blueberry and your choice of cherry or strawberry — which make them a little more elevated than the ones from your darty days.

Red, White, and Blue Snow Cones

You don’t have to wait for the ice cream truck to jingle down your block for these adult-friendly snow cones. White rum is the perfect kicker to this kiddie classic.

Strawberry Lemonade

Some classics should be left untouched, which is why you won’t find any booze in this kid-friendly strawberry lemonade recipe. It uses over a pound of fresh strawberries for the juiciest flavor. Put out a pitcher for a hydrating sip between cocktails.

Memories of Summer Cocktail

With just three ingredients, this refreshing beverage wows without requiring much work. It’s all thanks to the decadent combination of cucumber vodka, lime juice and elderflower liqueur.

Sangria Pops

Enjoying a red wine-based popsicle on a hot day may put your shirt at risk of a stain — but it’s well worth it. Chances are you’ll finish the fruity treat before it melts.

Step up your spritzer game by serving this ombré-hued beverage. Fresh strawberries sweeten the drink while adding a natural red hue.

Lemonade Prosecco Punch

Lemonade Prosecco Punch — a drink so elevated it’s essentially three beverages in one. We knew you’d want to make a big batch, so our recipe serves 20-25 people.

Dark 'n' Stormy

It might seem contradictory, but this Bermudian classic is a must-make for your 4th of July celebrations simply because it tastes so good. The 3:2 ginger beer to dark rum ratio is essential to creating those layered, contrasting colors.

Cherry Gin & Tonic

You're committed to gin and tonics but are willing to stray (just slightly!) from the classic recipe for the holiday’s sake. All you need is cherry juice to lend your drink a patriotic hue.

White Peach Sangria

This big-batch White Peach Sangria may require a bit of easy prepping, but it’s worth it. Recipe developer Elizabeth Heiskell suggests freezing white wine ice cubes so you’re not watering your pitcher down on a hot summer day, which we think is simply brilliant

Savory Cucumber-Herb Sangria

Inspired by spa water, it’s only right you relax while enjoying this cocktail. Refreshingly light with a bit of tartness, you can kick your feet up and enjoy without worrying about a sugar-induced headache.

Stone Fruit Sangria

Stone fruits (think: cherries, apricots and plums) are the perfect complement to a merlot-based sangria. Top with raspberry seltzer for an elevated combination of vibrant flavors.

Muddling fresh mint leaves with cucumbers and fresh berries helps marry the fruity flavors for a well-balanced beverage. Doing so requires a little bit of elbow grease, but it’ll add to the sophistication factor of this already-chic beverage.

Want to have fun with herbs? The secret to this elevated Strawberry Smash is a pinch of freshly chopped tarragon — the lemony herb is an unexpected flavor that’s delicious with fresh strawberries in this a party-ready cocktail.

Raspberry Sangria Slushies

This icy take on sangria makes cooling off at the end of a hot summer day a breeze. The base is red wine, which is dressed up with frozen raspberries, orange liqueur, fresh lemon juice and honey.

Lemon and Tonic

Get The Recipe

Lemon and Tonic

Lauren "LP" Paylor O'Brien

Our Lemon Tonic doesn’t call for your typical ingredients — here you’ll find a combination of coriander, lemon peels, dried elderflower, ground ginger, juniper berries and fresh mint. The sip is about exploring unique flavor combinations and the results are bold and delicious.