Guille Faingold

9 Secrets To Hosting The Ultimate Cocktail Party This Summer

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After months hibernating in a cave built out of down comforters, the time has come to rejoin the outside world.

Yes, you guessed it: Summer is (finally!) here.

Against all odds, we've made it to the time of crop tops and iced lattes. And as much as we love taking selfies in mirrored sunglasses and using the hashtag #roséallday, we have to say that our absolute favorite thing about this sacred season is the inevitable resurgence of our social lives.

The barbecues, the beach trips and classiest of all — the cocktail parties. Between fancy drinks and oh-so-cultured conversation, how could we NOT be obsessed?

Plus, there's this: Nothing makes us feel more like a Real Adult™ than throwing together a fabulous cocktail party for the coolest people we know.

And contrary to popular belief, hosting a party doesn't have to mean drowning in elaborate shopping lists and cutesy paper straws. Just because a bash looks fancy doesn't mean it has to be a total nightmare to plan.

All you really need are some friends and a few bottles of your go-to alcohol (Smirnoff Sourced, anyone?) and boom — you've got a shindig that rivals anything you've ever drooled over on Pinterest.

Here are the only nine secrets you need to know to host a next-level cocktail party this summer.

1. Have it outside.

Drinking in the open air is one of the greatest things that summer has to offer. We can't speak to the science behind this, but enjoying a cocktail on a rooftop, a terrace or in a backyard automatically makes it taste 100x better.

2. Mix up your guest list...

Look, we know you love your ride-or-die BFFs and want to hang out with them and only them from now until forever.

We also know that it's an indisputable fact that the best parties include people from all walks of life. Start with your go-to crew, then make a point to invite friends who don't already know each other and you'll end up with a soirée that's anything but dull.

3. ...and the cocktails.

Give guests a chance to show off their *superb* mixology skills by setting up a do-it-yourself cocktail bar with all the fixings.

Don't forget the most important part of this process: Avoid serving the sort of standard alcohol you'll find at most parties and opt for something that's a little more interesting. Our go-to is Smirnoff Sourced, which is gluten-free (yasss!) and made from fresh fruit flavors. (My personal fave is Cranberry Apple.)

4. Break the ice.

There's nothing better than seeing friends from totally different parts of your life making personal connections. Who cares if it's only because you forced them to interact through awkward party games?

Foster new friendships by having guests participate in shamelessly-cheesy activities like never-have-I-ever bingo. Your friends might roll their eyes at first, but they'll be thanking you once the ice is officially broken.

5. Think beyond simple syrup.

Rule number one: Stop buying simple syrup. You can still have a yummy cocktail without it.

How? Well, this is where your Smirnoff Sourced-stocked bar comes in handy: Since it's made from real fruit juice, Smirnoff Sourced offers that tinge of sweetness without the hassle of simple syrup. If you're in need of inspiration, mix the gluten-free Ruby Red Grapefruit vodka with a grapefruit-flavored soda water and you'll have a tasty cocktail — all without the sticky residue of a sugar-drenched syrup.

6. Step up your ice game.

Traditional ice is for traditional parties, and that's not exactly what we're going for here.

Jazz up ice cube trays by adding things like berries, fresh mint leaves and even gummy bears, but ONLY if you're prepared for some ridiculously photogenic drinks.

7. Make sure there's something for everyone.

First, always have plenty of water on hand so everyone stays hydrated in the summer heat.

As for the liquor, stick to gluten-free brands and have a variety of flavors like the always-reliable Smirnoff Sourced Pineapple and Smirnoff Sourced Cranberry Apple. Your guests will be satisfied, and you'll make it look so easy. That's a party win-win.

8. Master the art of easy snacks that look hard.

When it comes to the spread, our motto is cook smarter, not more. Trust us, your friends will never know the difference.

Keep the menu elegant and the recipes simple with easy hors d'oeuvres like watermelon, feta and basil skewers.

9. Don't neglect the lighting.

Is it really a baller cocktail party if your guests have to slap a filter on their pics of the evening before posting them? Call us crazy, but we don't think so.

Provide the filter for them by keeping the lights low and putting candles everywhere. To complete the ambiance, add quirky stuff like string lights in fun shapes (chili peppers are ALWAYS a good idea).

Please drink responsibly. SMIRNOFF SOURCED Flavored Vodka. The Smirnoff Co., Norwalk, CT