The beauty of cocktails is that even the simplest cocktail can be absolutely fantastic if done right.
At the very basic definition, a cocktail should contain three ingredients, any less than that and you’re really just slapping two ingredients together and calling it a day (rum & coke anyone…)
But, three ingredients can go a surprisingly long way, especially if you know how to combine those ingredients into something spectacular. Here are a few that will absolutely prove that it’s not the size of your ingredient list that counts, but how you use it.
Popularized in the 18th century, the mint julep may be one of the first commonly drank cocktails, and one of the easiest to make.
- 0.75 oz simple syrup
- 8-10 fresh mint leaves
- 3 oz bourbon
Method: Muddle syrup and mint leaves in a julep or tall collins glass. Fill halfway with crushed ice; add bourbon. Stir to chill; top with more ice. Optionally garnish with another sprig of mint.
Another classic bourbon cocktail, this one is named for the iconic hat-shaped Los Angeles diners that were a centerpiece of mid-20th century LA.
- 2 oz bourbon
- 1 oz. grapefruit juice
- 0.5 oz rich honey syrup (a 3:1 ratio of honey to water)
Method: Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice until chilled, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist or wedge of grapefruit.
That’s right, one of the most iconic cocktails only requires three ingredients to make. This one should be a staple for any home bartender.
- 3 oz rye whiskey
- 1 oz sweet vermouth
- 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
Method: Mix whiskey, vermouth, and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice; stir to chill. Strain into a chilled martini glass, or alternatively a rocks glass with an over-sized ice cube; garnish with a cherry.
This is a classic Italian cocktail that can be used as a palate cleanser between courses. It’s refreshing and delicious.
- 3 oz frozen lemon sorbet
- 3 oz prosecco
- 1 oz vodka
Method: Pour the prosecco and vodka into a champagne flute. Spoon a scoop of sorbet into each flute. Add a sprinkle of chopped fresh mint for a nice kick. Alternatively, you can also whisky together the prosecco, sorbet and vodka and pour into martini glasses for a slush version of this drink.
Honestly if you can’t remember the recipe for a classic negroni cocktail after making it once, you might not be cut out for home bartending.
- 1 oz dry gin
- 1 oz campari
- 1 oz sweet vermouth
Method: Add gin, campari and sweet vermouth to a mixing glass with ice and stir well to chill. Strain into a rocks glass, either chilled or with an over-sized ice cube, and garnish with a twist of orange.
Technically there are four ingredients in this recipe, if you include the bitters, but bitters should be standard for any home bar, plus this is an excellent drink that’s seems complex but is super easy to make.
- 1.5 oz Bacardi Añejo Cuatro
- 0.75 oz Martini & Rossi Rosso
- 0.25 oz Dry Curacao
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Method: Stir all ingredients with plenty of ice until very cold, strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with orange peel.