17 Easy Cocktails You Can Make with Three Ingredients or Less
Just add ice—and maybe a twist—and you'll be ready to enjoy your libation.
The art of the classic cocktail is as fresh as it ever was. For the time-pressed, intimidated, or minimalist drinkers out there, we bring you inspiration and reassurance, and some very good libations. Have you noticed that the most storied mixed drinks, like the martini pictured here, feature the alchemy of just two-to-three ingredients (we're not counting garnishes)? You don't have to have an arsenal on your liquor tray (or in the kitchen cupboard) to mix them. Unless you'd like to try them all in turn, of course.
Some rely on fizz: Think of the irreproachable summer sundowner that is the gin and tonic. The wayward Pimm's Cup, companion to poolside parties, and the Moscow Mule, gingery and cold in a copper cup. Or the elegant Kir Royale, a ruby-hued flute of Champagne (or simply dry sparkling wine) with crème de cassis.
Then there is the luminous citrus flock: the lusciously citric Sidecar. The outgoing Margarita (using real lemon or lime juice with Cointreau and decent tequila will reveal this much-abused drink in an altogether different light). The lime-centric and sexy Caipirinha. The grapefruit-bitter Salty Dog.
And the pedigreed vintage cocktails that take themselves seriously and somehow embody the dignity of drinking alone at a polished zinc bar in a summer city that everyone seems to have left: The austere Martini. The cynical Negroni. The introspective Manhattan. The self-conscious Vodka Gimlet.
Different in character, but suitable for all occasions and personalities, these drinks have in common the signature of good mixology: a combination of restraint and inspired pairing. That and the fact that they can be made using three ingredients or less.
Brazilian cachaça is a sugarcane liquor like white rum's smoldering cousin. All it needs is sugar and lime to bring it to life.
Skip the fruit and vegetable garnishes to keep this lovely long drink minimal and more grown up.
Sometimes the cherry is not on the top. If the reward in a velvety Manhattan is the cherry at the bottom, make it good. Skip the neon fakes. Luxardo's are the cherries you need—they're dark with hints of marzipan.
Elegant and easy, all you need is vermouth (okay, two vermouths—both red and white), ice, and that all-important curl of lemon (trust us): Cin-cin!
Like a relaxed version of the compact Negroni, the Americano is a tall thirst-quencher that balances sweet vermouth and bitter Campari with soda water and lots of ice.
If you've only tasted a hackneyed, sour-mix iteration of a Margarita, you're about to awaken from a very troubled sleep. This is a Margarita done right, and it's so easy to master: All you need is tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. Once you've made one, you will never look back.
Crème de cassis is an under-appreciated and versatile French liqueur. At its fanciest, it makes Champagne even more festive, but this black currant liqueur works just as deftly in dry white wine (that's a Kir), with sparkling water (Cassis Spritz), or shaken into a Mississippi Mule.
Dark and Stormy
Brandy (or cognac) and the smooth citrus Cointreau are a luxurious partnership. Add fresh lemon juice for a lick of essential acidity.