Skip to main content

The amazing 3-ingredient cocktails every home bartender should know

Wow your guests with these easy, elegant 3-ingredient cocktails

Seems there’s a holy trinity in a lot of things, from the spiritual realm to the culinary world. In the arena of cocktails, there are many, many of these lauded trios. Turns out, when you have a great base spirit or two, you don’t need much else to create something that tastes divine.

The 3-ingredient cocktail is a wondrous thing, both easy to make and layered in terms of flavor. You can achieve an unexpected amount of depth when mixing with just three ingredients, provided you get you approach, ingredients, and ratios in order. These are classic drinks you can make in just minutes and rely on time and time again, whether you’re really into rye whiskey or prefer something more tropical.

Couples having a good time at a bar.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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.

Negroni

Viktor Fj/EyeEm/Getty Images / Getty

This cocktail is a harmonious blend of three of the most complementary ingredients every. While there are endless riffs to be tinkered with, the base makeup of Campari, gin, and vermouth in equal parts is a thing of beauty. Try exploring different styles of gin as you mix this one up, as well as vermouths (there are some great Spanish versions). If you’re like us, you like a dry cocktail so dial down your sweet vermouth addition or find a dryer option at your bottle shop.

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 part Campari
  • 1 part gin (Botanist preferred)
  • 1 part 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 with ice or large cube.
  4. Garnish with an orange twist.

Dark ‘n’ Stormy

Boozy Rum Dark and Stormy Cocktail with LIme.
Boozy Rum

One of the best things rum can be treated to is a hearty splash of ginger ale. This cocktail capitalizes off this lovely marriage and can even create a cool fade in the glass. Not to break the 3-ingredient mold, but if you have some decent bitters on hand, it makes for a nice addition to this vintage drink.

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces dark rum (Bayou preferred)
  • 3 1/2 ounces ginger ale
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

Method

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice and add rum.
  2. Top with ginger ale.
  3. Garnish with lime.

Aperol Spritz

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Chances are good you knew about this one even before the latest season of White Lotus immortalized it. The Aperol Spritz in an Italian classic, bursting with color and flavor and sending the imbiber straight to the Mediterranean. Born in Venice in 1920, this drink has much history and an equally-bright future. It’s a great one for mild afternoons and does great as an aperitif or with lighter lunch fare.

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces Aperol
  • 3 ounces Prosecco
  • 1 splash of soda water

Method

  1. Combine Aperol and sparkling wine in glass with ice.
  2. Top with soda water.
  3. Garnish with orange wedge.

Old Fashioned Recipe

Old Fashioned cocktail served in a glass.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Old Fashioned is the undisputed heavyweight 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 ounces bourbon (Evan Williams White Label preferred)
  • 1/4 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.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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 1/2 ounces 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.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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 1/2 ounces gin (Beefeater preferred)
  • 1/2 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.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“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 fault to be found. Try one and then thank us later.

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

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces rum (Plantation 3 Star preferred)
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 3/4 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.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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 freshly squeezed lime juice instead.

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

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces tequila (Lunazúl blanco preferred)
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 3/4 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.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

While the Negroni’s 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 1/2 ounces bourbon (Evan Williams White Label preferred)
  • 3/4 ounce Campari
  • 3/4 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.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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

  • 2 ounces gin (Beefeater preferred)
  • 3/4 ounce honey syrup (2:1 honey:water)
  • 3/4 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.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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 1/2 ounces Campari
  • 1 1/2 ounces 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.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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. It was originally created by Craig Schoettler.

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

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Green Chartreuse
  • 2 ounces pineapple juice
  • 3/4 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.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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 ounces gin (Beefeater preferred)
  • 3/4 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

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
Move over, espresso martini — This whiskey-based coffee cocktail is so much better
Espresso martini alternatives: Meet the revolver cocktail
Revolver

If you’re a fan of coffee-based cocktails, you probably get your caffeine fix from an Espresso Martini or a classic Irish Coffee. And while these drinks are all well and good, there’s another coffee-based cocktail you need to add to your boozy, energetic rotation. It’s called the Revolver, and instead of vodka or Irish whiskey, it gets its alcohol base from the use of good ‘ol American bourbon whiskey (or rye whiskey if you need a little extra, peppery spice in your life).

The simple, elegant, caffeinated cocktail is made with whiskey (bourbon or rye whiskey). Coffee liqueur, orange bitters, and, for a little flair, a flamed orange peel. Not only is it flavorful with a nice mixture of whiskey sweetness (or spice if you decide to go the rye whiskey route), citrus, and bold, robust coffee, but it’s also surprisingly easy to make.

Read more
Did you know you can cure prosciutto at home?
Making this meaty treat at home is easier than you think
Slicing prosciutto

Prosciutto is a favorite ingredient of many, not only because of its beautifully silky texture and incredible flavor, but for its culinary diversity. Prosciutto gives an instant upgrade to anything you happen to be eating. Boring sandwich? A few pieces will transform it into an Italian masterpiece. Cheese board looking a little humdrum? Pile on some silky slices and no one will be able to leave that board alone. Kids won't eat their asparagus? Wrap it in this stuff and watch the magic happen.

And while we love prosciutto for its savory, salty, briny, meaty goodness, making it at home probably isn't something many of us have attempted at home. Until now. Keep reading to learn how.

Read more
Why you can (and should) add bourbon right to your banana bread batter without cooking it first
Bourbon alcohol cooks out as banana bread bakes - genius!
Banana bread

Cooking with booze is one of the best ways to achieve a robust and delicious complexity of flavor. For any number of dishes, we braise, poach, deglaze, and sauce with everything in the liquor cabinet, from wine to tequila to rum, and our food is better for it. And while you may have incorporated beer into your cupcakes or poached pear in a simmering pool of red wine, you may not yet fully appreciate the flavor spirits can bring to baked goods. Banana bread is one of the most delicious, comforting, feels-like-home treats there is, and it's hard to imagine it getting any better than it already is in its mildly sweet, toasty perfection. Enter bourbon.

It turns out that splashing a bit of bourbon into banana bread batter can take Grandma's recipe and elevate it to something one might find in an upscale restaurant. Here's why.

Read more