Summer entertaining and the best warm-weather cocktails with celebrity chef Katie Lee

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Katie Lee

Memorial Day is just around the corner, and if you're like us you're itching for flowing dresses, warm sunny days and any icy drink in your hand. We turned to chef Katie Lee, whose new show Beach Bites is premiering on the Cooking Channel June 2nd at 10pm, for some tips and tricks when it comes to throwing a killer summer party. Read on for how Katie entertains in style -- and of course, her favorite summer cocktails.

"I entertain quite a bit in the summer," she told us, " so I have it down to a formula!" The key? Making as much as you possibly can in advance. That way you can be part of the party, and won't spend the entire night in the kitchen!

So what are some of Katie's go-tos when she's throwing a party at her house in the Hamptons? Hors d'oeuvres on the fly! She likes to do what she calls assembly hors d'oeuvres and dessert. "I'll cut up fresh radishes and serve that with butter and sea salt, or use sliced cucumber with lemon zest, sea salt and crush red pepper, served with sliced salami. Those are both great with cocktails."

Another appetizer option that looks great with minimal effort: The cocktail tray.

"I always have potato chips, marcona almonds and green olives on hand -- put those in pretty little bowls and place them on a tray with cocktail napkins and a signature cocktail. It looks really special but it doesn't have to take a lot of effort."

You might be noticing a theme here, because when it comes to the main meal Katie plans ahead, too. "I usually make a few salads like a grain salad with quinoa, a green salad and some grilled vegetables that I can keep in the fridge until it's time to eat -- and then I'll marinate a flank steak and put that on the grill, slice it up and serve it."

Nutchello chocolate margarita

Katie recommends having beverage options for your guests to go with that signature cocktail (like rose and white wine), and two pretty incredible recipes worth trying. She's teamed up with Nutchello and created several drinks with their creamy, nutty flavors.

First, the Toasted Coconut Martini that only has 4 ingredients ("it's really easy make and doesn't require a lot of work. Plus getting out a cocktail shaker makes everything a little more fun!") and her favorite -- and the biggest crowd-pleaser -- the Frozen Dark Chocolate Mocha Margarita.

"I know it sounds odd, a chocolate margarita!" she said, "but it is so delicious." And it sounds it. "Put it all in a blender and on a hot summer night, serving this drink for dessert has so much wow factor."

Plus, watch below to see Katie Lee chat with AOL Build:
Katie Lee Talks "Endless Summer Cookbook"

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