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Signature cocktails

Play mixologist at your next gathering by whipping up signature cocktails. They not only make your party memorable -- they make it simpler by not requiring a full bar. For an outdoor party, choose a signature cocktail muddled with fresh herbs or infused with seasonal fruit; for the winter months, opt for something dark and warming.

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recipe

This citrusy cocktail, perfect for sipping on a spring evening, pairs well with Parmesan-and-Pepper Sticks, an easy, crisp snack that can swing savory or sweet. Look for Lillet Rose, a new aperitif wine from France, at your local wine shop. You can also use Lillet Blanc.

recipe

Ruby Red grapefruit juice and Bellocq's White Nixon tea blend, which includes white tea and lavender, make this vodka cocktail bright and refreshing. Serve it over ice, garnished with fresh grapefruit peel and store-bought candied clementines.

recipe

This recipe comes directly from the Violet Hour bar in Chicago, where this is the signature cocktail. Be sure to check out the Red Snapper from the King Cole Bar, another cocktail from a romantic bar.

recipe

Sherry comes in many styles that vary in body and color. This cocktail calls for amontillado, which is light and naturally dry -- a savory contrast to sweet, seasonal fruit. Chill the concoction as you prepare dinner. The fruit will set, and the fortified wine will take on its flavor.