When most people think of cocktails you can make at home they think of the “and” cocktails. Booze…and something. Gin and tonic. Rum and Coke. Other cocktails can seem too complex and unachievable by your average home bartender.
We want to change that attitude.
You can make a lot of amazing cocktails with only a few ingredients. The key to is to choose good quality alcohol and mixers. With so few components you’ll taste each one, so it’s worth splurging on the best you can afford. Sure, you can make a drink out of cheap vodka, but it won’t taste as good…and you’ll pay for it in the morning!
Here’s a handful of three ingredient cocktails (plus ice) that are easy to make, but feel fancy and are sure to impress.
We may love those sugary, limey slushies made with Cuervo mix, but the real true Margarita made from scratch is less sweet and so much more flavorful!
- 1oz Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
- 1oz Lime juice
- 2oz Tequila
Mix everything with a shaker, put in a glass and stir, or put into a blender with a cup of ice and blend.
Dark and Stormy
Moscow Mules may be a super popular cocktail, but a Dark and Stormy is its just-as-easy cousin. The only real difference is a Moscow Mule uses vodka, where the Dark and Stormy uses Gosling Black Seal Rum. Just make sure to use ginger beer, not ginger ale, as ginger beer has a significantly more ginger flavor. Goslings, Cock ‘N Bull and Bundaberg make great ginger beers, along with low sugar/diet variations.
- 2 oz Gosling Black Seal Rum (the “Dark”)
- 1/2oz Lime juice
- 3-5oz Ginger beer (the “Stormy”)
Add the Gosling Black Seal rum and lime juice to a glass with ice, then fill the rest of the glass up with the ginger beer and stir. Optional garnish: slice of lime.
Made famous in The Big Lebowski as the go to drink of choice for leading character The Dude, a White Russian has no origins in Russia whatsoever. They’re called Russians primarily, apparently, because vodka is a primary component. A variation, a Black Russian, omits the cream, though no one is entirely sure which drink came first.
- 1 2/3oz Vodka
- 2/3oz Coffee liqueur (like Kahlua or Tia Maria)
- 1 oz Fresh cream
Fill an short tumbler with ice, then mix in the vodka and coffee liqueur. Float the cream on top and give a tiny slow stir, just so they barely swirl together. You want to still see the border between the dark and the light. Half and half or milk can be substituted for the cream if desired.
Sweet-tart and refreshing, the Paloma is perfect for a hot summer day. One of the staple cocktails of Mexico, it’s served with grapefruit soda, though sometimes people use a mix of grapefruit juice and soda water.
- 2oz Tequila
- 1/4 to 1/2oz Lime juice
- 3-4oz Grapefruit soda (such as Fresca, Squirt or the Mexican Jarritos Toronja)
Fill a tumbler with ice, then add the tequila and lime juice. Top the glass with the grapefruit soda and stir. Optional garnish: slice of grapefruit.
The classic “booze and” cocktail the Cape Codder (vodka and cranberry) gets a little tartness and depth with the addition of grapefruit juice in the Sea Breeze. Tangy and refreshing, it’s a great for cooling down in warm weather.
- 1 1/3oz Vodka
- 4oz Cranberry juice
- 1oz Grapefruit juice
Mix all the ingredients together in a highball glass filled with ice, or shake to create a foam and serve in a martini glass. Optional garnish: slice of lime.
If there’s one cocktail that’s synonymous with the Kentucky Derby, it’s the Mint Julep. Evoking visions of long, steamy summers in the South, the clean mint and rich bourbon are balanced out with the simple syrup and crushed ice. With bourbon being the only liquid ingredient, it’s especially important to pick a good quality one you like. Spearmint is traditionally preferred, but any fresh mint will work.
- 1/4oz simple syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar and water)
- 8 fresh mint leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
- 2oz Bourbon
In highball glass or a traditional silver Julep cup, muddle the mint with the simple syrup. Add the bourbon, then fill the glass with crushed ice and stir until the glass becomes frosty and cold. Fill the rest of the glass with ice, then top with a sprig of mint.
It’s hard to hear about a Tequila Sunrise and not hear the Eagles’ song playing in your head. Originally created in the ’70s in a bar in Sausalito, California, the Rolling Stones popularized it with their 1972 “Cocaine and Tequila Sunrise Tour.” The important part of the Tequila Sunrise is that it is not shaken or stirred. Rather, it’s put together in layers with only light blending so it takes on the hues of a morning sunrise.
- 1 1/2oz Tequila
- 3oz Orange juice
- 1/2oz Grenadine syrup
Traditionally served in a stemmed tulip glass, it can also be served in a highball. Pour in the tequila over ice, then add the juice. Next, carefully top with the thick grenadine syrup, letting it slowly settle to the bottom. Optional garnish: a cherry and a slice of orange.