Skip to main content

Best 3-Ingredient Cocktails Every Home Bartender Should Know

Everyone loves a night out at the bar with friends for an evening of fun and questionable decisions. Letting a team of pro bartenders, masters of their craft, concoct delicious things from all of the tools of their trade is always a great start to an evening. Watching the theatre show of a great bar staff unfold in front of you, surrounded by friends and strangers alike, and enjoying the dimly-lit atmosphere and the on-point playlist sounds like a lot of fun.

But do you know what else is a lot of fun? Sitting on your couch in your most comfortable sweatpants with messy hair while enjoying a fantastic cocktail and watching the best Netflix shows with your S.O. or a friend or two who definitely won’t judge you based on your outfit (or lack thereof.) Chilling at home and being able to whip up some cocktails is not as daunting as it may seem and you don’t need a bar stocked with 50 or 60 bottles to do it right. You’ll also save money and who doesn’t like saving money?

Couples having a good time at a bar.

We’ve compiled a list of ten 3-ingredient classic (and modern classic) cocktails that are easy to make and don’t require anything fancy to replicate. With a bar of just a handful of bottles and a few other ingredients, you can make some awesome cocktails that would impress just about anyone.

Old Fashioned Recipe

Old Fashioned cocktail served in a glass.

The Old Fashioned is the undisputed heavy-weight champion of the classic cocktail universe. The OG 3-ingredient cocktail is simply bourbon, bitters, and sugar. Don’t like bourbon? Not a problem. Sub in rye, scotch, rum, or tequila. The Old Fashioned can be adjusted to accommodate nearly every spirit imaginable. You can also play around with different flavor profiles by using different kinds of bitters.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 6 minutes
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounce bourbon (Evan Williams White Label preferred)
  • .25 ounce simple syrup (1:1)
  • 5 dashes Angostura bitters

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
  2. Add ice and stir for 15-20 seconds.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass with ice or large cube.
  4. Garnish with an orange twist.

Manhattan Recipe

Manhattan Cocktail served in a glass.

The perfect Manhattan. Some of us know that a “perfect Manhattan” is a half-ounce each of sweet and dry vermouth along with two ounces of rye whiskey, but what about a perfect Manhattan? This is a lifelong road traveled by professional and home bartenders alike. Traditionally, the Manhattan has a ratio the same as the area code, 2:1:2, meaning 2 ounces of rye whiskey, 1 ounce of vermouth, and 2 dashes of bitters. If you’re like us, and prefer a slightly spicier, rye whiskey-forward cocktail, you’ll love this one.

Prep Time: none
Total Time: 2 minutes
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 ounce rye whiskey (Wild Turkey 101 rye preferred)
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth (Dolin preferred)
  • 5 dashes Angostura bitters

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
  2. Add ice and stir 15-20 seconds.
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  4. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry and an orange twist.

Martini Recipe

Martini in a cocktail glass.

We’re pretty sure there isn’t a more contested classic cocktail than the Martini. Gin or vodka? (Gin)  Shaken or stirred? (Stirred) Twist or olive? (Twist) Dry or wet? (Dry) We’re here to put it all to rest. After *many* trial and error tests (somebody has to do it,) this is the best one. Period. A great Martini is all about two things: the ratio of gin to vermouth and how cold it is. A perfectly made Martini can show you the face of God and you can smile while you bask in Her glory. A 5:1 gin to vermouth ratio with a single dash of orange bitters, stirred for nearly a minute and garnished with a lemon twist, produces our perfect Martini. We can debate the finer points some other time.

Prep Time: none
Total Time: 2 minutes
Yield: 1 perfect Martini

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 ounce gin (Beefeater preferred)
  • .5 ounce dry vermouth (Dolin preferred)
  • 1 dash orange bitters

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
  2. Add ice and stir for 60 seconds.
  3. Strain into a frozen coupe glass.
  4. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Daiquiri Recipe

Daiquiri served in a cocktail glass on a table.

“Some are born great. Others achieve greatness.” – William Shakespeare

The Daiquiri is a perfect cocktail. Plain and simple. The combination of rum, lime, and sugar, shaken with ice is just, well, perfect. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Most people today hear the word “daiquiri” and expect a frozen, neon-colored, overly sugared abomination straight from 1996. In reality, a traditional daiquiri is as good as it gets. Bracingly cold with a punch of acidity and balanced by the sweetness of the sugar syrup, there’s literally no faults to be found. Try one and then thank us later.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 6 minutes
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounce rum (Plantation 3 Star preferred)
  • .75 ounce lime juice
  • .75 ounce simple syrup (1:1 sugar:water)

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake for 15 seconds.
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  4. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Margarita Recipe

Margarita garnished with lime.

Consistently topping the list of America’s Most Popular Cocktails, the margarita holds that lauded position for a reason: it’s delicious. Because the classic margarita consists of just three ingredients, concentrating on the quality of those ingredients is paramount to crafting a stellar margarita. Don’t skimp on the choice of tequila or orange liqueur and skip the “sour mix.” Opt for fresh squeezed lime juice instead.

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounce tequila (Lunazúl blanco preferred)
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • .75 ounce lime juice

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake for 10-20 seconds.
  3. Strain into a salt-rimmed rocks glass filled with ice.
  4. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Boulevardier Recipe

A glass of Boulevardier on a table.

While the Negronis rise in popularity continues to grow, with it has come an appreciation for its slightly lesser known siblings like the Boulevardier. Historically speaking, the Boulevardier has always been a bourbon drink though these days most seasoned bartenders will tell you that the Boulevardier is more of a “whiskey Negroni” so if you like rye more than bourbon, feel free to sub in a good rye whiskey for the bourbon. For us, we’re going to stick to the traditional use of bourbon but also adjust the recipe to feature the whiskey a little more.

Prep Time: none
Total Time: 2 minutes
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounce bourbon (Evan Williams White Label preferred)
  • .75 ounce Campari
  • .75 ounce sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica preferred)

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
  2. Add ice and stir for 15-20 seconds.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.
  4. Garnish with an orange twist.

Bee’s Knees Recipe

A glass of Bee's Knees.

A cheeky riff on the gin sour, the Bee’s Knees is believed to have been a product of Prohibition but no one really knows for sure (though the name kind of gives it away.) Bright and slightly floral, the shaken mix of gin, lemon juice, and honey begs to be enjoyed on a patio during the summer months.

Prep Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2o ounce gin (Beefeater preferred)
  • .75 ounce honey syrup (2:1 honey:water)
  • .75 ounce lemon juice

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake for 10-20 seconds.
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  4. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Americano Recipe

Three servings of Americano.

Even though the Negroni may be more popular, its bubbly, taller brother is just as good. Lower in ABV, this Italian spritz can be enjoyed all day long without the fear of making a scene. Considered an aperitivo, the slightly bitter mix of Campari and sweet vermouth, topped off with soda water, makes for a perfect pre-dinner cocktail.

Prep Time: none
Total Time: 2 minutes
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounceCampari
  • 1.5 ounce sweet vermouth (Dolin preferred)
  • Soda water

Method:

  1. Add the Campari and sweet vermouth to a tall glass filled with ice.
  2. Top with soda water.
  3. Garnish with an orange twist.

Pineapple Recipe

Pineapple cocktail served in a glass.

Sometimes the universe combines two things (or people) and they become iconic matches made in heaven. Peas & carrots. Cher & Dionne. Outkast. This can also be said about pineapple and Green Chartreuse. The beloved high-proof herbal elixir has been made by the Carthusian monks since the 16th century. Made from 130 different ingredients, the green variety of Chartreuse (there’s also a yellow version) packs an herbal punch with notes of pine and licorice. For some reason, combining what, on paper, seems like two extremely different ingredients produces something extraordinary. Originally created by Craig Schoettler.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounce Green Chartreuse
  • 2 ounce pineapple juice
  • .75 ounce lime juice

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake for 10-20 seconds.
  3. Strain into a tall glass filled with ice.
  4. Garnish with a few sprigs of mint.

Cosmonaut Recipe

A glass of Cosmonaut cocktail.

Created by the late, great Sasha Petraske, the Cosmonaut was his cheeky dig at the immensely popular Cosmopolitan. A much simpler cocktail than the original, the Cosmonaut is simply gin, lemon juice, and a spoon of raspberry preserves. Perfect for springtime, this little-known tipple makes for a nice change of pace when it comes to a sour.

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 4 minutes
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounce gin (Beefeater preferred)
  • .75 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 tsp raspberry preserves

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Use a spoon to stir the ingredients in the tin to begin to dissolve the preserves.
  2. Add ice and shake for 10-20 seconds.
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe.

Editors' Recommendations