Plenty of cocktails have only a few ingredients. For the sake of our story, we’re looking at three.
Three ingredients put you in the classic cocktail camp – the Martini (gin, vermouth, a dash of orange bitters when it’s super old-school,) the Manhattan (rye, vermouth, bitters), and the Daiquiri (light rum, sugar, lime juice,) for instance, are all three-ingredient marvels. All of the latter are drinks you should know how to make, of course. But that’s a story for another day. The question facing us here is ‘What if you want something a bit out of the ordinary? Some that is equally simple and elegant, as well as infinitely satisfying.’ The kicker to the latter requirements is this: It needs to be quick and easy to make at home with no more than three ingredients.
Classic cocktails are often labeled classic because of their inherent simplicity. For any number of reasons during the Golden Age of cocktails (cost, availability, taste of the times), recipes didn’t contain a panoply of ingredients; shaking or stirring three to five liquids could easily produce some of the best drinks around — and it still does. As to garnish, do as you will. Technically, a garnish adds a fourth “ingredient,” so we won’t fault you for skipping it. But, if you do take a few more seconds to twist a peel or skewer a cherry, your drink will be all the more rewarding.
So, if you are burned out on your usual tipple, try one of the suggestions below and make them part of your three –minute repertoire. Mixing yourself a drink isn’t rocket science, nor will it take much time out of your day. Yet, the return on investment is one of the best bangs for the spirituous buck there is. And, odds are, if you add up the cost of your ingredients, that cocktail you make for yourself will cost less than $3.
Do you like the idea of a Negroni, but aren’t in the mood for gin? Perhaps it’s still a bit too chilly for the clean, crisp profile of the juniper spirit. The Boulevardier is the answer. The drink’s provenance dates back to the 1920s. The name was derived from a magazine of the same name, which was edited by Erskine Gwynne, a wealthy expat who lived in Paris where he apparently invented the drink. Gwynne shared the recipe with Harry McElhone, owner of Harry’s American Bar in Paris, who recorded it for his 1927 book “Barflies and Cocktails.”
- 1 1/2 oz. Bourbon or Rye
- 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth (such as Carpano Antica)
- 1 oz. Campari
- Lemon or orange twist, for garnish if desired
Preparation: Place all the ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice and stir until well chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a lemon or orange peel, if desired.
For those of you who simply can’t get enough Fernet Branca, then the Hanky Panky was made for you. There are only a couple dashes of the potent licorice-forward liqueur, but you taste every drop. Created in 1927 by Ada Coleman, the head bartender at the Savoy Hotel’s American Bar, this is a doozy of a drink with the one-two punch of juniper gin and anise-heavy Fernet balanced by the sweetness of the vermouth.
- 1 1/2 oz. Dry gin (such as Beefeater)
- 1 1/2 oz. Sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes Fernet Branca
- Orange twist, for garnish if desired
Preparation: Place all ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice and stir until well chilled. Strain into a coupe and, if desired, garnish with an orange twist.
Of the three drinks here, the Sidecar is perhaps the most familiar. It is in the ‘sours’ category of drinks, combining only spirit, citrus, and sweetener. Invented sometime during World War I, the origins of the drink are much disputed, but many would credit it to Pat MacGarry of the Buck’s Club in London. You might notice that there is no sugared rim in the recipe below. The sugaring came later and, if the drink is made correctly, it doesn’t need it.
- 1 1/2 oz. Cognac or Brandy
- 3/4 oz. Orange Liqueur
- 3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
- Lemon Twist, for garish if desired
Preparation: Place all ingredients in an ice filled tin and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe-style glass.