It's hard to be bartender at your own party, between greeting, serving, and other party duties. But handing guests a festive cocktail as they arrive is a fun way to start the evening, and the secret is to make it ahead of time.

On a recent trip to New York City, I asked the bartenders at my favorite restaurant and bar Gramercy Tavern, for a festive summertime cocktail. (Gramercy Tavern is known for their fabulous seasonal cocktails that use fresh fruits and herbs; check out their cocktail book Mix Shake Stir for more than 100 tempting recipes.) Their answer: the rum, pineapple, and strawberry Pineapple Pain Killer. Pineapple and strawberries are a perfect match, and I can't think of a better way to kick off a summer party. One tip: be sure to start making the Pineapple-infused Rum three days in advance!

Pineapple Pain Killer

  • ½ fresh pineapple
  • 1 liter Cruzan Rum (or your favorite white rum)
  • 2 cups lemonade
  • ½ cup Strawberry Liqueur (Crème de Fraise; I like Joseph Cartron brand)
  • 4 pints fresh strawberries

For the Pineapple-infused Rum:

  1. Peel, core, and cut one pineapple in half. Chop into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Place the cut pineapple in a large container and fill it with 1 liter of Cruzan Rum. Cover, refrigerate, and let macerate for 3 days and then strain through a sieve.
  3. In a sealed container combine 4 cups of the strained Pineapple-infused Rum, the lemonade, and the strawberry liquor. Stir to combine and refrigerate.
  4. For each cocktail, pour 3½ ounces of the rum mixture into a shaker along with 3 strawberries. Shake and pour into a rocks glass without straining.

Serves about 20 people; recipe courtesy Gramercy Tavern Restaurant