No matter how creative you got with your socially distant entertaining, it could be a good time to brush up on your mixology skills. Zoom and FaceTime happy hours will probably stick around for times when gathering in person just isn’t possible, but with the potential to do more IRL entertaining this season, you might be interested in adding a few concoctions to your repertoire. And you don't need much to make it happen: Plenty of three-ingredient-or-less cocktails feel just as fancy as ones you'd get at the bar, and your friends will love learning a new concoction as well.
Like many people, you may have devoted a good portion of your year in lockdown to perfecting their culinary craft, including baking bread or trying out new and healthy recipes, but did you brush up on your home bartending, too? Of course you already know the basics when it comes to simple cocktails like vodka soda, rum and coke, or the requisite spritz. But with the same amount of effort, you can try something more out-of-the-box.
Enough talk — it's time to start mixing. Whether you're looking for something that uses ingredients you've already got lying around, or you're open to something that includes a new product to add to your bar cart, the cocktails ahead are minimal in effort, but majorly enjoyable (including a boozy take on the whipped coffee trend). Try them for every style of entertaining — virtual or otherwise.
This throwback cocktail can vary in terms of technique and ingredients (for example, traditionalists might use egg whites for added froth), but for the most pared down version, you’ll only need amaretto liqueur, fresh lemon juice, and a dash of simple syrup. If you’re feeling fancy and have some Luxardo cherries laying around, toss one in for a garnish.
Look to The Dude’s favorite for a three-ingredient cocktail that’s smooth, creamy, and so simple to make yourself. Just combine vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream, and serve over ice.
Love a bitter cocktail? This Negroni variation combines whiskey with Campari and sweet vermouth. Serve it on the rocks and add a twist for a refreshing summer drink that’s not too sweet.
Herbaceous gin gets balanced by a touch of sweetness in this charming yet simple cocktail. First create a honey syrup (stir equal parts honey and water together over medium heat until dissolved, then let cool), then add a splash of that to 2 ounces of gin and a healthy squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Shake and serve up in a coupé glass or strain over rocks and enjoy.
This vintage cocktail is making comeback, plus using cognac for your spirit du jour makes for an interesting change of pace. All you need to whip this up is 2 ounces of your preferred cognac, 1/2 ounce of orgeat, and a few dashes of bitters. For a touch more tartness, squeeze in a bit of your favorite citrus fruit and/or garnish with a twist.
Spiked Whipped Coffee
“The Dalgona coffee is everywhere right now," says Carol Pak, founder of Makku, a Korean rice beer. "Since it originated in Korea, we naturally came up with a makgeolli-infused version. Now you can unwind while also getting a pick-me-up!” To make it, whisk together 1 tablespoon of instant coffee, 1 tablespoon of hot water, and 1 tablespoon sugar until you achieve creamy soft peaks. Pour the rice beer in the glass — where you'd normally add your milk — then top with the whipped coffee.
Got a bottle of bubbly laying around? “Instead of just drinking champagne, liven up your night in by adding just some simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry or bar cart," says bartender Gabe Briseno of Los Angeles-based bar Employees Only. For this concoction, start by topping a sugar cube (or a little simple syrup) with two dashes of bitters in your glass. Then add your Prosecco or Champagne and garnish with lemon twist.
Briseno recommends stocking up on citrus when you can, since it can add a ton of flavor to any cocktail, and a perfect example is this sweet but stiff drink that only requires 2 ounces vodka, six pieces of lime, and .75 simple syrup (or two brown sugar cubes). Add a splash of soda water if you desire.
"Eat Your Veggies" Martini
The use of flavored bitters is an easy way to make any drink more exciting, says Lauren Trickett, brand ambassador for wine brand Lillet. "Bitters are an incredibly flavorful and cost-effective way to completely change up your go-to at home cocktail (not to mention they are also shelf stable so you'll have zero waste)." Her favorite creative use is a twist on a dirty martini, using the flavor of celery in lieu of olive. Mix 1.5oz Lillet Blanc, 1.5 ounces gin, and three dashes celery bitters, then serve up or on the rocks — bonus points if you're able to garnish with a little celery stalk or leaf.
Rosso Dolce Spritz
Sweet red wine lovers, this one's for you. Vipra dreamed up this cocktail that combines Rosso Dolce, sparkling wine, and a splash of sweet vermouth. The latter of these gives the drink balance and complexity, and it's a nice departure from your usual Aperol spritz.
This boozy frozen treat looks and tastes impressive, but it's actually incredibly simple to make. “Just blend any type of milk, spirit, and fruit that you have in your kitchen and pour into popsicle molds for the freezer," says Jeremy Allen, General Manager and Head Bartender at MiniBar in Los Angeles. "There’s no set recipe, but a rough ratio is 2 parts milk, 1 part booze, and 1 part fruit. One of my favorite combos is vanilla rice milk (sweetened is good here), Cachaca, and raspberries.”
Spa Blah Blah
A boozy version of spa water? Yes please. Suzanne Perry, Co-Owner of Florida's Datz suggests this cocktail that's so beloved, the restaurants have been offering make-at-home-kits. “The Datz kit comes with a bottle of Hendrick’s gin, four bottles of Mr. Q cumber soda, and fresh cucumber slices. But, if you’re not here in the Tampa/St. Pete area, grab any bottle of gin you can find, some Mr. Q via your local Whole Foods or Instacart, and a cucumber and you can mix up some fun on your own!”
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