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The Beauty of the Simple Cocktail

by Bri Craig 4 months ago in cocktails
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Five cocktail recipes with five ingredients or less

The Beauty of the Simple Cocktail
Photo by Kobby Mendez on Unsplash

"Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance"

- Coco Chanel

The world is a hectic and chaotic place, but that doesn't mean our cocktails have to be the same. Many folks want to have restaurant-quality cocktails from the comfort of home - but the high ingredient lists and fancy names can start to feel daunting. However, I believe every adult deserves to have an easy cocktail free from crowded bars and expensive up-charges. So today I've gathered 5 classic cocktails that only need 5 ingredients - and, I've included notes on where to find special ingredients, or what substitutes work or don't work.

While there are a handful of classic rail-drink cocktails that are easy (gin & tonic, vodka soda, rum & coke, whiskey ginger...), the cocktails I'm talking about today are cocktails that are meant to make you feel a little fancier than your favorite college bar's happy hour.

But before we start - I'd like to make three points:

  • Many of the recipes use a cocktail shaker, but here are some alternatives if you do not have one.
  • For a mocktail alternative, sparkling wine and champagne can be replaced with sparkling ciders. Liquor can be replaced with zero-alcohol liquor, water, or omitted from the recipe entirely.
  • For simplicity, most of these drinks don't have garnishes, but you can always garnish your drinks with a slice of the fruit(s) used in the drink and/or by giving the drink a rim. If the drink is sweet use a sugar rim, and if the drink is punchy try a salt rim.

Alright! Let's get started.

By Aleisha Kalina on Unsplash

1.) The Bellini

2 Ingredients:

  • Prosecco (or any sparkling white wine)
  • Fruit Puree

Steps:

To put together this cocktail, all you need to do is put a little fruit puree at the bottom of your glass, and then pour the prosecco on top! You should get a lovely gradient from the two, but you can also stir it up for a more cohesive sip if you'd like. I can't tell you what measurements are best for this cocktail, because it varies per person! I don't like to use a lot of fruit puree, but if you have a mean sweet tooth you'll want to use more!

Notes:

As far as the fruit puree, I hate it when recipes include hard-to-find ingredients with no indication of where to find the ingredients (we don't all shop at whole foods, Diane). So if you can't find fruit puree in your grocery store (look in the cocktail aisle) - you have two options:

  • Make it yourself
  • Buy it online

To make it yourself, combine your fruit(s) of choice with lemon juice and sugar and blend in a blender or food processor. Then put the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove the seeds. More detailed instructions can be found here.

To buy it online, as much as I hate to say it, Amazon is the best place I've found to carry fruit puree. The brand that you can find in grocery stores and on Amazon tends to be this RE'AL brand - but Amazon charges more than you would find this ingredient in a store.

Still, while making your own puree still brings this recipe below 5 ingredients, the beauty of simplicity sometimes asks that your ingredients are bought pre-made.

By Mae Mu on Unsplash

2.) The Mimosa

2 Ingredients:

  • Champagne
  • Fruit Juice (Typically orange juice)

Steps:

Combine both in a glass and serve! This is another drink where the ratio is down to personal preference. Since I love champagne, I tend to do mostly champagne and a splash of orange juice in my mimosas. My mother, however, prefers her mimosas to be the opposite! So have fun and experiment with what ratio is right for you! If you need a place to start, start with equal parts champagne and fruit juice (use the same amount of each ingredient).

Notes:

Mimosas are typically made with orange juice, but don't let that dampen your creativity. You can make a mimosa with nearly every fruit juice. I've tried pineapple mimosas in the summer, and apple cider mimosas in the fall! Here's a fun article about creating your own DIY mimosa bar, for inspiration (link).

By YesMore Content on Unsplash

3.) The Pina Colada

3 Ingredients:

  • White Rum
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Cream of Coconut

Steps:

Combine equal parts of each ingredient into a shaker with ice. Shake & serve! You can choose to play with the ratios, but I find the 1:1:1 ratio to be my favorite and the easiest!

Notes:

The RE'AL brand I mentioned in the Bellini notes also has cream of coconut. You can likely find this in the grocery store's cocktail section, or on Amazon. Goya also has cream of coconut (in a can), so you may also have luck in the Latin American and Mexican food aisles. Note that I would not recommend coconut milk as a substitute for this recipe, but other recipes may use it!

By Brian Jones on Unsplash

4.) The Classic Margarita

While the simplest margarita is pre-made margarita mix and tequila, the simplest homemade margarita only takes three ingredients.

3 Ingredients:

  • Tequila
  • Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • Lime juice
  • Optional - salt (to rim the glass)

Steps:

Combine all three in a cocktail mixer, shake, and serve over ice!

Notes:

Are you picking up a theme here? I don't often include specific measurements - because everyone is bound to like their drinks mixed a little differently. You can start with equal parts of each ingredient, and play around with the ratios from there, or you can follow the proportions used by A Couple Cooks (here) who recommend 1 ½ ounces tequila, 1 ounce Cointreau or Triple Sec, and ¾ ounce lime juice.

By Olha Tatdot on Unsplash

The Margarita (again)

The above recipe is the simplest margarita recipe, but I also wanted to share my personal margarita recipe, which is a few more ingredients.

5 Ingredients:

  • 2 parts Key lime juice
  • 1 part Tequila
  • 1 part Triple Sec
  • 1 part simple syrup
  • 1 part water
  • Optional - salt (to rim the glass)

Steps:

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice, shake until well mixed, then serve! Because I include water in this recipe, I usually don't serve this one over ice, so it doesn't get watery. And I know that adding water makes it sound like the drink itself will be watery, but trust me the lime juice is so strong and flavorful, that it won't hurt your drink (I promise)!

Notes:

For the key lime juice and the simple syrup, check the cocktail section at your local grocery store. Simple syrup is also something you can make easily (and cheapy) yourself with water and sugar.

To make simple syrup, you'll want to combine about 2 parts sugar with one part water. For example, you can heat up a cup of water on the stove and dissolve about 2 cups of sugar in the water. It is not necessary to boil the water (but if your water boils, you won't hurt it). When all of the sugar is dissolved, then take the pot off the heat and let it cool. Your syrup will last longest if you put it in a clean container in the fridge.

By Wine Dharma on Unsplash

5.) The Mule

5 Ingredients

  • Vodka*
  • Ginger Beer
  • Limes
  • Optional - Mint
  • Optional - Simple Syrup

Steps:

Basic Recipe: Cut the lime into slices. Add 1-2 shots of vodka to a glass with ice (copper mugs are a classic choice for this cocktail). Squeeze one (or more) lime slice into the drink. Pour ginger beer over and stir lightly. Garnish with another lime slice.

Optional Steps - Cut the lime into slices. Muddle (crush) the mint and one lime slice at the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add simple syrup to the shaker. Add vodka and ice then shake (note - do not include the ginger beer yet because if you put a carbonated beverage in a shaker, you'll probably explode this drink all over yourself). Pour your mixture into a glass or copper mug. Pour ginger beer over the mixture. Garnish with mint and lime.

Notes:

The Mule is most commonly made with vodka and called a Moscow Mule, but you can use other liquors for this drink. For example, this drink could also be made with tequila, whiskey, or gin. The name of this cocktail varies per liquor, and while usually it's called an {insert place that stereotypically enjoys said liquor} mule, there are some fun variations to that script. For example, when made with gin, I've heard this drink called a London Mule, a Foghorn, or my personal favorite, the gin-gin mule (gin-gin being short for gin-ginger beer).

Although I included a lot of optional ingredients, I do recommend all of them in the mule! Mint is one ingredient I don't see as often in Mule recipes, but my very first Moscow Mule had mint, and I have just never been able to go back to the non-mint life.

Ginger beer is usually non-alcoholic and can either be found in the cocktail section of your grocery stores or with the club sodas and tonic waters. I find that if your grocery stores have ginger beer in both sections, the brand in the club soda section will be cheaper (but that's just my experience). You can sub ginger beer with ginger ale if you prefer. Ginger ale tends to have a weaker ginger taste, more sweetness, and more carbonation.

By Zan on Unsplash

Thank you!

I hoped you enjoyed my very first cocktails article! Please feel free to use the comments section below to ask any questions about any of these recipes or to let me know if you tried any of these!

Have a great day (and drink responsibly)!

~

If you liked this article, you may also enjoy this one:

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About the author

Bri Craig

Bri Craig (she/her) is a variety pack writer. She enjoys writing poetry, webcomic features, humor, short stories, and personal anecdotes. Basically, neither of us will ever know what will be posted next!

Let's connect! More about me here.

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  • Cathy holmes4 months ago

    some good recipies here. Well done

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