- INSIDER spoke to several bartenders, drink experts, and mixologists about their favorite two-ingredient cocktails.
- Typically, two-ingredient cocktails have a 2:1 ratio of mixer to spirit, but not all of them do. Plus, each drink recipe is easy to customize.
- Many experts said using high-quality ingredients is the key to a tasty and elevated two-ingredient drink.
- Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.
Two-ingredient cocktails can be as delicious as they are easy to make.
Although many two-ingredient cocktails are generally served in a 2:1 mixer-to-spirit ratio, there are a lot of ways you can change up drink recipes to suit your personal tastes.
INSIDER asked a group of professional bartenders, bar owners, and drink experts about some of their favorite, simple cocktails.
Here are some of the best two-ingredient cocktails you can make at home. Just a note that we don’t count garnishes as an ingredient, but you can certainly add those too.
A vodka soda is easy to customize
Austin Sherman, cofounder of Big Easy Bucha and former bartender at SoBou in New Orleans, Louisiana, said to make this drink you should use one-part vodka to two-parts soda. He also said you should serve the drink over ice in a small cocktail glass.
Sherman said if you want to have a bit of fun with the drink, you can experiment with the type of soda you use. He said he uses homemade sodas and he recommends avoiding sodas with artificial flavors because “those [flavors] tend to jump out in such a simple cocktail.”
The Godfather is a classic cocktail with two ingredients
The Godfather is a cocktail comprised of amaretto, a sweet Italian liqueur, and scotch.
Nick Krueck, the bar manager at Oscar Wilde in New York, said the usual recipe calls for equal parts scotch and amaretto but he prefers “a recipe with 2 ounces of a blended, smokey scotch and 1 ounce of amaretto.”
“I highly suggest using a smokier scotch because the cocktail plays extremely well off of the sweet-and-smoky combination,” he added.
There is a reason the gin and tonic is so popular
A gin and tonic is a classic drink and Elizabeth Farrell, lead bartender at Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant, said the key to a making a tasty version of this cocktail is to tailor the ingredients to your personal taste.
“The fun comes in selecting the gin and tonic styles you’d like to use,” she said. “When it comes to gin, you can either choose an herbal, London dry, barrel-aged, or a sole gin.”
“Once you choose your style of gin, it’s time to think of the tonic. A few types are Mediterranean, Indian, and flavored tonics,” Farrell told INSIDER. “No matter what types you choose, you’ll have created your own unique gin and tonic.”
Farrell said she likes to mix 2 ounces of a botanical gin with 3 ounces to 4 ounces of a Mediterranean-style tonic and serve it with ice.
A dark and stormy can be made with two ingredients
Evan Wolf, the beverage director for The Company Burger in New Orleans, Louisiana, told INSIDER that he regularly makes a two-ingredient dark and stormy at his restaurant even though the drink is typically made with four ingredients (usually dark rum, ginger beer, lime juice, and simple syrup).
Wolf said he makes his version of the drink with 2 ounces of Mount Gay Black Barrel rum and 3 ounces of ginger beer.
You can make a tequila-based Paloma in a soda bottle or a cup
Chris Bidmead, the owner of Bar Methods, told INSIDER that he typically makes his Palomas in the glass bottle of a Jarritos grapefruit soda.
To make the drink, he said he takes a sip from the soda and then pours a 1.5 ounce of tequila into the bottle. He said he then lines the bottle’s rim with salt and garnishes it with a lime wedge.
To change up the drink, Bidmead said you may want to replace the tequila with mezcal.
You might want to garnish your gin martini with an olive
Bidmead said he likes to make his gin martinis with 1 1/2 ounces of Amass gin to equal parts Lillet, an aromatized wine, as a substitute for sweet vermouth. He said he garnishes the drink with an olive and a lemon twist.
Bidmead also said it’s important to follow the correct method when making a martini at home, which is to add the gin and Lillet into a mixing glass, add ice, stir, and strain into a chilled glass. He said the cocktail should be served without ice.
If you want a caffeine fix, try making a mock espresso martini
To make a “quick and easy” version of the typically complex espresso martini, Bidmead said he takes 1 1/2 ounces of Beluga Vodka and 4 ounces of Manhattan Special, a sweet espresso soda, and pours them both over ice.
Vermouth and soda is a low-alcohol cocktail that requires minimal effort to make
Kyle Mcelfresh, an active bartender in Los Angeles, California, said he thinks the vermouth, a fortified white wine, and soda needs a comeback.
He said he likes this drink for its low ABV (alcohol by volume) and he thinks it’s great to consume before a meal.
To make this drink, Mcelfresh said he mixes 1 1/2 ounces of Punt e Mes vermouth with 2 1/2 ounces of Topo Chico Mineral Water and pours it over rocks in an old-fashioned glass.
The rusty nail is a pseudo-cocktail that has a smoky flavor
A rusty nail is made from scotch mixed with Drambuie, which is a liqueur made from scotch, honey, spices, and herbs. Mcelfresh said he uses 2 1/4 ounces of scotch and a 1/2 ounce of Drambuie.
Japanese highballs are quite simple to make
Freddie Sarkis, chief cocktail officer at Liquor Lab in SoHo, New York, said he loves a Japanese highball, which is 2 ounces of the Japanese whiskey of your choice mixed with 4 ounces of sparkling water or soda water.
Sarkis said he likes to serve the cocktail without ice so, to keep the drink cold, you’ll want to keep the glass and the whiskey in the freezer. He also said recommends using a bit of citrus zest to garnish the drink.
A mix of mezcal and coffee is popular in some parts of Mexico
Sarkis said he loves making a mezcal and coffee, a popular drink in Oaxaca, Mexico. To make the drink, he said you want to start with coffee that’s been brewed however you like and then mix it with Del Maguey Mezcal Vida or your mezcal of choice.
“If you prefer a sweeter flavor you can use the Del Maguey Crema De Mezcal, which has some agave nectar blended in already,” he told INSIDER.
Although you can customize it to be more complex, a Pimm’s Cup can be easy to make
Jacques Bezuidenhout, who works with beverage consultancy agency Liquid Productions, said he makes his version of the drink with 2 ounces of Pimm’s and 3 ounces of quality ginger ale. He said he serves this classic British drink in a wine glass.
The drink is also easy to customize – Bezuidenhout said to “have fun with lots of garnishes like cucumber, mint, strawberries, etc.”
A bourbon lemonade is refreshing and simple
To make the drink, he said he adds ice, 2 ounces of Bulleit Bourbon (he said the drink’s notes of honey and vanilla make it great for pairing with lemonade), and 5 ounces of fresh-squeezed lemonade into a shaker.
Contreras said he shakes the drink for 10 seconds, strains it over a highball glass filled with ice, and then garnishes it with a lemon wedge.
The French Kir Royale is topped with champagne
A Kir Royale is a French cocktail that consists of crème de cassis (a sweet, dark-red liqueur made from blackcurrants) and topped with champagne.
Emily Demarchelier of Demarchelier restaurant in New York said she pours 1/2 ounce of crème de cassis into a glass and then fills the remainder of the container with champagne.