By Carey Jones and John D. McCarthy
Updated June 29, 2015
© Carey Jones

No, we're not going to give you some goofy 3-color layered drinks, or anything featuring syrups that come in colors that don't exist in nature. But while we're thinking about easy-drinking summer cocktails, why not get in the spirit of the season? For this July 4, here are our favorite red, white, and blue cocktails—any one of which should be a huge hit at your backyard cookout this weekend.

Red: Italian Gentleman

A little sweet, a little bitter, this is a great stiff drink to start the evening off. Most cocktails use only a moderate amount of Campari, but bourbon is robust enough to stand up to a healthy pour of the amaro, and they mesh beautifully in this whiskey sour rendition.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 1 1/2 ounces of Campari, 1 1/2 ounces of bourbon, 3/4 ounce of lemon juice, and 1/4 ounce simple syrup (equal parts sugar and hot water). Add a couple dashes of orange bitters. Shake that all up and strain into a coupe class. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

White: Silver Gin Fizz

While some classic cocktail genres have made a real comeback, the Fizz still languishes in relative obscurity. We'd like to see that change. Spirit, citrus, egg white and soda water come together for a light, frothy drink that's easy to love. The fact that it tastes like lemon sherbet—despite a stiff 2 ounces of gin—is just a bonus, in our book.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker without ice, combine 2 ounces gin (we're using Tanqueray 10), 1 ounce lemon juice, and 3/4 ounce simple syrup. Add one egg white. Shake all that up hard without ice (that's called a "dry shake"). Add ice and shake again (the "wet shake"). Strain into a tall glass without ice. Top with 2 ounces of club soda.

Blue: Summer Blues

When you've got great summer fruit, all you need is a little booze and a little lemon to create an awesome cocktail. Blueberries are a prime candidate this time of year. Make sure to double-straining this one—strain it through your shaker's strainer, plus a fine mesh strainer. If you don’t, you'll be picking bits of blueberry skin out of your teeth all night and who no one wants that.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker, gently muddle 20 blueberries. Add ice along with 2 ounces white rum (we're big fans of Brugal Extra Dry), 3/4 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and half an ounce of simple syrup. Shake that all up and double-strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice. Garnish with a few more blueberries.