by Julia Millay Walsh
We love to experiment with homemade bitters and infused syrups, but sometimes you just want a cocktail that’s simple and fuss-free. Luckily, there are tons to choose from. In fact, many of the most classic cocktails have just a few ingredients. For those days when you want a drink fast, or when you want to serve a crowd without slaving away behind the bar for hours, here are 17 yummy beverages that require only two ingredients. Cheers.
A break from the everyday margarita, Mexico’s most beloved cocktail, the Paloma is made by mixing equal parts (¼ cup) of tequila with grapefruit-flavored soda (such as Fresca or Jarritos). Serve it on the rocks with a lime wedge—salted rim optional.
The most classic cocktail of all, the Martini, is made with two simple ingredients—gin and vermouth. The proportion of the gin to vermouth, however, is a variable that many discerning drinkers choose to play with. A two-to-one ratio is common, but four-to-one and even five-to-one are also popular. And of course, you can choose to garnish with olives if you please, or mix in a splash of olive brine to make “a dirty martini.”
To make this classic two-to-one martini, pour the gin and vermouth into a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
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An essential cocktail recipe to add to your arsenal, the Screwdriver is made with equal parts (1.5 oz.) vodka and orange. Just add the vodka to a highball glass filled with ice and top with O.J.
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A staple of Basque culture, the kalimotxo is an easy twist on sangria, made with equal parts dry red wine and Coca-Cola poured over ice. You can dress it up with a squeeze of lemon or orange, but purists might say those additions are even too fussy. Overdid it last night? Kalimotxos make quite the restorative hangover cure, too.
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An easy favorite with a delicious pairing of spicy notes, Whiskey Ginger is a classic ginger ale highball made with rye whiskey and ginger ale. Just fill a highball glass with ice and then add 1.5 oz. of rye. Then fill with the glass with ginger ale.
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A Don Draper favorite, this refreshing Mad Men-era cocktail is made with vodka and grapefruit juice. Just fill a rocks glass with ice, pour in 2 oz. of vodka and 5 oz. of grapefruit juice, and stir well. Garnish with a grapefruit peel if you so desire. Want to get fancy? Add ½ oz. of rosemary syrup and a rosemary sprig for an herbal touch.
A snakebite is a cocktail made with equal parts lager and cider. In the United Kingdom, it’s often served with a dash of black currant liqueur, which is known as “snakebite and black” or “diesel.” In the U.S., stout is often used to make it instead of lager.
To make a snakebite, chill a pint glass. Pour in 8 oz. of chilled cider, and then float 8 oz. of lager on top of it by holding a spoon over the glass and slowly pouring it over the back of the spoon.
The Gimlet is a gin-and-sweetened-lime-juice cocktail juice that dates back to the ‘20s. The classic combo is crafted by shaking 2 oz. of gin with ¼ oz. of Rose’s Lime Juice with ice in a shaker, and then straining into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
The Screwdriver Mule
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A marriage of the aforementioned Screwdriver and the Moscow Mule (another two-ingredient cocktail), the Screwdriver Mule adds a bit of ginger for some kick. To make it just fill a rocks glass with ice and add 2 oz. of Smirnoff ICE Screwdriver, then top with ginger beer. Add a squeeze of lime and garnish with a lime wedge if you wish.
The Piña Colada
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Thanks to L&A Pineapple Coconut Juice, you can actually make a mean piña colada in just 90 seconds. Just add one shot of good white rum to a glass filled with ice and top with the pineapple coconut juice. Garnish as you please with a slice of pineapple or fresh mint, or even a dash of Angostura bitters.
Also known as Campari-Orange, the Garibaldi is a classic Italian aperitivo made with, you guessed it, Campari and orange juice. We prefer a one-to-three ratio of Campari to orange, but some recipes call for a one-to-one ratio. Just fill a tumbler or Collins glass with ice, add the Campari, top it with O.J., and stir.
Rum and Coke
Good old rum and Coke is a fuss-free cocktail that’s been around since the early 20th century. To make it, just add ice to a rocks or Collins glass, pour in 2 oz. of white rum, and fill it with cold Coca-Cola. Step it up a notch and make a Cuba Libre by muddling a lime in the glass before you add in ice.
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Originating in Venice, Italy in the ‘30s or ‘40s, the Bellini is a simple yet elevated cocktail made with chilled peach purée and prosecco. Just pour 2 oz. of purée into a Champagne flute and top with 3 oz. of prosecco. The drink is served straight up.
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A Shandy is a refreshing summer drink made from beer mixed with lemonade. It’s usually made with equal parts of each ingredient, but it can be adjusted to your liking. Just add ice and give it a stir!
The big brother to the more widely known White Russian, the Black Russian dates back to 1949 and has a deep, rich color and distinct flavor. To make it, just fill a rocks glass with ice, add one part Kahlúa and two parts vodka, and then give it a stir.
The Dark 'n’ Stormy
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A staple in the sailing community and the national drink of Bermuda, the Dark ’n’ Stormy is a highball cocktail made with Gosling’s Black Rum and ginger beer over ice. Any ratio really works, but 2 oz. of rum to 4 oz. ginger beer is how we like it.
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Named after the American golfer, the Arnold Palmer is actually a non-alcoholic drink made with one-to-one iced tea and lemonade, but it’s been revised with a boozy twist. To make the adult version, fill a rocks or Collins glass with ice, then fill it halfway with lemonade and top it with sweet tea vodka.
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