31 Best Cocktails To Sip By The Pool, Ranked

One enduring symbol of living the good life is sitting by the side of a pool — or, if you're a bit more daring, sitting in a floating lounger equipped with cup holder — and sipping on a refreshing cocktail. Sure, we can't all afford an Olympic-sized in-ground pool, but planting your butt in a folding lawn chair and your feet in a plastic kiddie pool can be the next best thing as long as you've got the right drink.

What makes for the perfect pool drink? We tend to prefer tall, cool drinks that aren't heavy, bitter, or overly creamy, and bonus points if they're not too high-octane as lower-ABV drinks make for better poolside safety. Fizzy works well for us, as does fruity, and we love anything with citrus. For the most part, we'd rather not have our pool drinks be too complex, either, and it's nice to have something that can easily be mixed by the pitcher. We will make exceptions to any or all of these rules for Tiki drinks, however.

We ranked our favorite poolside beverages from worst to first, but bear in mind that "worst" is a relative term. Each and every one of these cocktails are perfectly pool-worthy, and we can't wait for warmer weather to usher in a season of al fresco happy hours.

31. Refreshing Cosmopolitan Cocktail

The Cosmopolitan may not have been created as a pool drink, but it's pink and pretty and seems fairly summery despite being made with fall's favorite fruit, the cranberry,  To make an extra pool-friendly, low-ABV version, you can divide this recipe between two tall glasses and fill each one with seltzer to make a refreshing Cosmo Fizz. Add some lime wheels and maybe a pretty paper straw, then kick back in your lounger and enjoy this stylish sipper.

Recipe: Refreshing Cosmopolitan Cocktail

30. Basic XYZ Cocktail

The XYZ, as its name implies, is a simple three-ingredient combination of orange liqueur, rum, and lemon juice. The citrus flavors speak of summer, but the cocktail itself, like the Cosmo, can be tweaked a bit to make it an even better pool drink. For starters, swap the stemmed glass for a tall one, then top it off with a splash of seltzer or lemon-lime soda. If you'd like to lighten it up, you can turn it into an upside-down cocktail by mixing the liqueur and rum in a 2:1 ratio instead of the 1:2 called for in this recipe.

Recipe: Basic XYZ Cocktail

29. Pimm's Cup Cocktail

Pimm's Cup may be the official drink of tennis watching, at least in the U.K., but we feel that it makes for a good all-around summer refresher, particularly if you're fond of cucumber water. In fact, as it's made with this vegetable as well as fresh strawberries, it might even help you to use up some of that surplus summer produce. We also appreciate that it's pretty light on booze, so you need not hesitate to pour a second round.

Recipe: Pimm's Cup Cocktail

28. Classic Tom Collins Cocktail

The Tom Collins is a tall, cool drink that could best be described as a G&T for people who don't like tonic water. Instead of that bitter beverage, the mixer here is club soda, plus there's a small splash of simple syrup to sweeten things up a bit and a generous amount of lemon juice to add some bright citrus flavor. If you want to veer a little bit off the beaten path, you could make it with your favorite flavored seltzer and even add a fresh fruit garnish.

Recipe: Classic Tom Collins Cocktail

27. Lemony French 75 Cocktail

The French 75 may have been named after a type of artillery used during the First World War, but it's a drink better suited to peaceful poolside reverie than to the battlefields where its eponym was employed. It's somewhat similar to the Tom Collins in that it's made with gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup, but instead of seltzer water, the drink gets its fizz from sparkling wine. While you could use fancy French Champagne, you may want to save the good stuff for drinking on its own and employing a cheaper vintage as a mixer.

Recipe: Lemony French 75 Cocktail

26. Coconut Martini Cocktail

Martinis are generally not our summertime beverage of choice as they're too strong, too dry, and too formal. This coconut martini, however, is a fun, frivolous libation that bears little resemblance to the classic martini besides being served in the same type of glass. For poolside imbibing, we'd actually suggest pouring this cocktail into a tall, ice-filled glass instead as this will be less prone to tipping than a stemmed one. 

Recipe: Coconut Martini Cocktail

25. Classic Belmont Jewel Cocktail

The Belmont Stakes, aka the third jewel in the Triple Crown, takes place in the month of June, so of course its signature drink is a summery one. The Belmont Jewel may not be as well-known as the mint julep, but we prefer it for poolside imbibing because the heavy, smoky flavor of the bourbon is balanced out by the freshness of the lemonade and pomegranate juice. Try this drink in a tall glass packed with crushed ice and garnished with a sunny lemon wheel and maybe a few fresh strawberries. Even though there are no berries in the drink itself, they make a much better garnish than pomegranates do (plus the latter fruit is typically not in season until fall).

Recipe: Classic Belmont Jewel Cocktail

24. Frose Cocktail

Let's take a little trip in our waterproof wayback machine to the 2010s when frosé all day was everyone's summertime thing. Drink trends may come and go, but you know what? Pink wine slushies still go down just as smoothly as they did last decade. The Chambord in this recipe can be omitted if you'd like a drink that's less sweet and/or alcoholic, but the berries are de rigueur since you need your vitamin C.

Recipe: Frose Cocktail

23. Classic Peach Bellini

Peaches are such a summery fruit — unlike fresh berries, stone fruits like peaches aren't something you can always find in the supermarket year-round. While you could use peaches in any number of cocktails, perhaps the best-known one is the Bellini. It's basically a peachier version of a mimosa, one that replaces the orange juice with peach puree. While this recipe calls for prosecco, you can use a less-sugary sparkler if you feel that a drier wine would better offset the peaches' natural sweetness.

Recipe: Classic Peach Bellini

22. Classic Margarita Cocktail

The margarita may have been born in a Mexican bar, but thanks to Jimmy Buffett's '70s hit "Margaritaville," it's been regarded as the quintessential beach drink for the past half-century. This recipe is a fairly classic version made with tequila, lime juice, and triple sec and is something that lends itself well to being mixed by the pitcher. If you have no agave nectar, simple syrup works just fine, plus you can always adjust the sweetness to suit your own preference.

Recipe: Classic Margarita Cocktail

21. Refreshing Spicy Margarita

If there's anything better than a classic margarita, it's one with a slight kick to it. We're not talking about the boozy kick — of course, it has that from the tequila — but a little bit of heat from sliced jalapeño. As the chile only has half a minute in the shaker to infuse the drink with its flavor, this drink isn't particularly incendiary, although you can add extra pepper slices (or re-use the ones from the shaker) as a garnish. Even just a slight hint of chile flavor, though, makes for a fun twist on an old favorite.

Recipe: Refreshing Spicy Margarita

20. Frozen Margarita Cocktail

Well, actually there is one more way to make a margarita even more pool-worthy than either of these two on-the-rocks drinks we've just covered, and that's to toss it into the blender with a few handfuls of ice. The frozen margarita has that whole grown-up Slurpee feel that just screams summertime. This drink tends to be pretty popular even with those who don't care for tequila as all of the ice helps to balance out the flavor of that rather assertive spirit.

Recipe: Frozen Margarita Cocktail

19. Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri

This sweet-tart strawberry daiquiri drink is made with light rum, but the dominant flavor is that of strawberries with a little zing from some fresh lime juice. The amount of simple syrup used here is just a suggestion, too, and can be adjusted up or down as needed. While this recipe says it makes just two drinks, you actually get a whole blender full, which is more like four drinks unless you're using super-sized glasses.

Recipe: Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri

18. Classic Moscow Mule

If you serve the Moscow Mule in a copper mug, it may tend to give the drink an autumnal or even wintery vibe, but what it is, is really just ginger beer doctored up with a shot of vodka and a squeeze of lime. As such, it makes for a great pool drink when poured into a tall, ice-filled glass. Maybe add a few mint sprigs and you'll have something that looks just as summery as it tastes.

Recipe: Classic Moscow Mule

17. Bubbly Cherry Bomb

Simple soda-based drinks are perfect for poolside imbibing as they have a sweet, simple flavor that goes nicely with a side of summertime nostalgia. The cherry bomb is a drink with a name guaranteed to delight your inner child — as long as your outer adult is past their 21st birthday, of course. The cocktail itself isn't particularly cherry-flavored as it's made from lime or lemon-lime soda spiked with rum, but it does get a hint of flavor and some pretty pink color from a splash of grenadine. You can also add a few maraschinos for a garnish, and as a bonus, the liquid from the jar can double as the grenadine (since essentially that's what it is).

Recipe: Bubbly Cherry Bomb

16. Orange Crush Cocktail

The Orange Crush — the mixed drink, not the soda brand — was invented at a beachside bar in Ocean City, Maryland, and for nearly 30 years it's been a summertime staple of this vacation destination. The drink is essentially a fizzy screwdriver as it combines vodka, orange juice, and orange liqueur and tops them off with lemon/lime soda. If you're throwing a pool party, you can even mix it up by the batch (or bucket, as they do in OCC). Although, you should hold off on adding the soda until the drinks are poured.

Recipe: Orange Crush Cocktail

15. Dirty Shirley Cocktail

The Dirty Shirley, as its name implies, is a boozed-up version of a classic kiddie cocktail. Our version is made with lemon-lime soda and grenadine spiked with vodka, although if you prefer you can go with the classic ginger ale instead. You can also swap out the vodka for any other type of spirit you may prefer. One great thing about making Dirty Shirleys is that once you or your companions have had enough alcohol, you can just leave out the liquor and revert back to Shirley Temples.

Recipe: Dirty Shirley Cocktail

14. Classic Piña Colada

So popular is the piña colada that it's been adopted as a flavor for cakes, ice cream, yogurt, and all manner of non-alcoholic beverages and desserts. As a cocktail, it works equally well in either rocks or frozen versions. While this recipe is for the latter kind, you can just mix up the drink ingredients and pour them into ice-filled glasses if you prefer not to break out the blender.

Recipe: Classic Piña Colada

13. Classic Tequila Sunrise

The tequila sunrise was the inspiration for a 1970s pop hit, and to no surprise, the drink was very popular during that decade. This tequila/orange juice concoction is having a bit of a revival, however, due to its fruity flavor and cheery color scheme, not to mention the cool ombré effect from the grenadine "sunrise" at the bottom. For poolside sipping, pour the tequila sunrise into a tall glass, and don't forget the orange slice and maraschino cherry. Drink garnishes are often an afterthought, but we love how this one manages to echo both the flavors and the colors of the cocktail.

Recipe: Classic Tequila Sunrise

12. Refreshing Sex On The Beach Cocktail

Yes, Sex on the Beach has a name that's totally cringe by 21st Century standards, but this cocktail dates back to the '80s when sleazy shooters and other embarrassing drinks were all the rage. Mortifying moniker aside, this cranberry/orange concoction drink is actually quite a tasty one and, as per its name, is the perfect accompaniment to aquatic activity (even if it's of the PG-rated variety). If you'd prefer a lighter, lower-octane version of the drink, you can always use the "upside-down" technique by reversing the measurements for the peach schnapps and vodka.

Recipe: Refreshing Sex On The Beach Cocktail

11. Classic Long Island Iced Tea

When we speak of iced tea as a summertime classic, we're usually referring to the standard version made with actual tea and no booze. The Long Island iced tea, while it's tea-free and chock full of booze, can also be quite refreshing. In fact, therein lies the risk, since this drink packs a powerful punch that kind of sneaks up on you. Should you prefer something that won't curtail your fun in the sun too early, though, you can reduce the amount of alcohol to a single tablespoon of each kind and add more ice and/or soda to the glass.

Recipe: Classic Long Island Iced Tea

10. Classic Ranch Water

Ranch water may be a popular type of canned cocktail now, but it's also a drink that can easily be made from scratch as long as you have tequila, sparkling water, and lime juice on hand. While some may insist that the drink must be made with Topo Chico brand mineral water, when you mix in the booze and the juice, you'll find little difference should you opt for Sam's Club seltzer, instead. In fact, it's even permissible to mix things up with a flavored seltzer like lime or grapefruit — the canned ranch waters do it, so why shouldn't you?

Recipe: Classic Ranch Water

9. Classic Paloma Cocktail

The Paloma may be one of the most popular cocktails in Mexico, and for good reason — it's just so darn simple! Snag a grapefruit soda, spike it with tequila, and you're all set. Here, however, we're making a slightly fancier (and much drier) version of the drink by using a combination of grapefruit juice and club soda as our mixers. There's also a bonus recipe for a chili powder-spiced salt rimmer that you can use if you feel like dressing up your glass.

Recipe: Classic Paloma Cocktail

8. Classic Mojito Cocktail

The mojito, we feel, may be one of Cuba's finest contributions to cocktail culture. This rum-based drink is fun to make as you get to muddle mint leaves with lime wedges and sugar, and the club soda topper makes it nice and refreshing. Our favorite part of drinking a mojito by the pool, however, is that it makes us feel like James Bond in "Die Another Day," and who doesn't want to channel their inner 007?

Recipe: Classic Mojito Cocktail

7. Tropical Rum Runner Cocktail

Ahh, Tiki drinks, could anything be more fitting for an afternoon by the pool? Sure, your backyard may not be filled with swaying palm trees, but a drink like the rum runner can help you to dream of tropical breezes. As the name implies, this cocktail is based on rum, but banana and blackberry liqueurs and pineapple juice add to the sweet/tart fruity fabulousness. While the rum runner is on the strong side, you can easily stretch it into two frozen drinks by pouring the ingredients into a blender with a few cups of ice.

Recipe: Tropical Rum Runner Cocktail

6. Classic Mai Tai Cocktail

The Mai Tai is one of the original Tiki drinks, although our version is more Mai Tai 2.0 as it adds ingredients Trader Vic did not use in his original drink. His was made with nothing more than orange liqueur, lime juice, orgeat, and simple syrup, but ours ups the ante with the addition of coconut rum, orange juice, and pineapple juices. All of these ingredients make for a pretty large drink, so it, too, can easily be turned into two frozen mai tais with the intervention of an ice-filled blender.

Recipe: Classic Mai Tai Cocktail

5. Sweet Rum Punch

Rum punch sounds like something that 18th-century gentlemen would imbibe by the bowlful, and yes, there are numerous rum punch recipes that do date from that time period. Our recipe, however, owes more to the Tiki era than the Colonial one. It's actually fairly simple for a Tiki drink since it only calls for one type of booze (rum, of course) mixed with orange and pineapple juices, plus a splash of grenadine for color. You can also add a dash or two of bitters if you'd like to temper the sweetness of the drink.

Recipe: Sweet Rum Punch

4. Classic Painkiller Cocktail

The painkiller is another Tiki-type cocktail that isn't particularly complex, but that's what makes it such a great pool drink. It's a sweet, tasty mixture of coconut cream, pineapple juice and rum — so yes, essentially a pina colada — but one that's been enhanced with a small splash of orange juice. While this recipe makes a Painkiller served on the rocks, this cocktail is just as delightful in a frozen version.

Recipe: Classic Painkiller Cocktail

3. Classic Bahama Mama Cocktail

The Bahama Mama is a midcentury Tiki drink that rates high on our list due to the fact that all of its ingredients are quite easy to come by: rum (dark and coconut), orange juice, pineapple juice, and grenadine. While we have nothing against orgeat, falernum, or other out-of-the-ordinary mixers, the simpler the drink, the more time we have to chill by the pool. We also like the fact that the Bahama Mama manages to be light and refreshing while still maintaining that tropical Tiki vibe.

Recipe: Classic Bahama Mama Cocktail

2. Frozen Blue Hawaiian Cocktail

If you've never experienced a Blue Hawaii, imagine a slightly orange-flavored frozen pina colada that's been tinted a delightful shade of robin's egg blue. Both the flavor and the hue come courtesy of blue curacao, a liqueur that is just like orange curacao only, you know, blue. What we like best about the Blue Hawaii is that it's the perfect beverage for anyone who's ever wanted a signature drink that would match their pool. It's also sure to delight any Elvis fans, even if it does predate the movie of the same name by a few years.

Recipe: Frozen Blue Hawaiian Cocktail

1. Michelada

Beer has long been a favorite summertime beverage, so it was a no-brainer to add a beer cocktail to our list.  The reason why we chose the Michelada as our top poolside libation, though, is that it ticks all of the boxes: it's pretty simple to make, it's light and refreshing, it's fizzy, and it's even citrusy from the lime juice. The Michelada is also relatively low in alcohol as cocktails go, and if you use light or even non-alcoholic beer, you'll have something you can sip on all day long.

Recipe: Best Michelada