Mixology. Handmade cocktails.
Drinks that cost $18 and have a giant spherical ice cube, a dash of organic, ethically sourced extract of goji berry and seven other ingredients. That's one, increasingly popular way of doing things.
But there's another, better way to do it: using a few simple, quality, basic ingredients to make any number of terrific drinks.
AskMen's resident spirits animal, Robert Haynes-Peterson, has created the ultimate minimalist guide towards creating and serving incredible drinks with just the basics.
We call it Distilled: Straightforward Cocktails For Straightforward Men. Make sure to check out part two, Classic Cocktail Recipes, and part three, our guide to Home Bar Equipment.
Often the simplest approach is the best. Whether relaxing poolside, exhausted after work, or because your refrigerator contains only ketchup packets and a Mountain Dew, here are the best two-ingredient drinks made on the fly.
There are fancier versions of this drink named after the famous Italian general, but it also works beautifully as a two-parter. For best results, squeeze fresh juice and use immediately.
1 oz Campari
1 to 3 oz Orange Juice as preferred
Combine ingredients over ice in a small juice glass. Stir well. Garnish with an orange wedge if desired, as done at the newly reopened Caffé Dante in Manhattan.
Gin & Tonic
This one is both a classic and a no-brainer. But the proportions, type of gin, type of tonic and the glass / ice on this can all change your drinking experience.
2 oz London Dry (or other) Gin
3 oz Fresh tonic water (Fever Tree, Q, Tomr’s, etc)
In a Collins glass or large Copa filled with cube ice, combine gin and tonic water (adjust the proportions to your tastes). Garnish with lime or lemon wedge, sprig of rosemary, slice of bacon, or just about anything you like.
Mezcal and Apple Juice
I was first introduced to this smoky-sweet shooter in Oaxaca, Mexico. You can get more complex, adding lemon juice and/or cinnamon simple syrup, but the original is sublime.
1 1/2 oz Mezcal
1/2 oz Fresh Apple Juice, chilled
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir till frosty cold. Strain into a shot glass. Sip or shoot. Can also be poured 1:1, or served as a cocktail.
What else to order in Mexico besides a Margarita? Try this refreshing afternoon staple. Get fancy if you like, using fresh grapefruit juice and club soda instead.
2 oz Blanco or Reposado Tequila
6 oz Grapefruit Soda
In a pint glass filled with ice, combine ingredients. Stir lightly and serve with a straw. Garnish with lime wheel if desired.
Made with Owl’s Brew tea, a pre-made infusion designed specifically with cocktails in mind, this straightforward drink works equally nicely with gin, tequila or bourbon.
2 oz Vodka
4 oz Owl’s Brew The Classic
In a Collins or pint class filled with ice cubes, combine ingredients and stir well. Garnish with lemon wedge if desired.
Perhaps the best two-ingredient drink of all time. The only questions you need to ask are: vodka or gin, 5:1, 50:50 or some other ratio, olives or lemon peel and, if you’re pouring for James Bond, shaken or stirred?
3 oz London Dry Gin or Vodka
1/4 to 1/2 oz Fresh Dry Vermouth (Dolin, Noilly Prat or your favorite)
Chill a cocktail or martini glass by filling it with ice and setting aside. In a mixing glass (c’mon, don’t shake) filled with ice, add gin and vermouth. Stir until well chilled.
Toss the ice from the glass and strain the drink into it. Garnish with olives, lemon peel or rosemary sprig. Order a second before the first is gone.
The Dude adds milk/cream/non-dairy creamer to create his White Russians, but this simple base was a popular (and manly) drink for many decades before "The Big Lebowski" shuffled into theaters.
1 1/2 oz Vodka
3/4 oz Kahlúa
Combine ingredients in an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir lightly and serve. No garnish necessary.
Bourbon and Cherry
Soda (of any kind) works just fine with booze: from Rum and Cokes, to Seven and Sevens. This combination, when done right, is refreshing, unpretentious and built for both a relaxing evening on the porch or an amped-up night in the club.
1 1/2 oz Bourbon (the higher proof the better)
Cherry Cola to top (try and find an artisanal brand for more intense, natural flavors)
In an Old Fashioned or Double Rocks glass filled with ice, add bourbon. Top with soda and stir. Garnish with maraschino cherry if desired.
A riff on the Champagne Cocktail, blending a dry, bright Champagne with sweet, fruit-floral liqueurs like Pavan (a subtle grape-and-orange blossom liqueur), St. Germain or pear liqueur works magnificently before dinner or as an afternoon refresher.
2 oz Pavan (chilled)
3 oz Champagne or Dry Prosecco
In a large wine glass filled with ice cubes, combine ingredients and stir lightly to blend. Garnish with lemon slice or frozen grapes.
Sometimes whisky is just too overwhelming. Brightening it up with a significant amount of club soda or ginger ale provides all the character of the whisky in a drink that won’t knock you on your ass during the barbecue. There is no shame in this classic drink.
2 oz 12-year Japanese Whisky (Yamazaki, Nikka or Hibiki)
Ginger Ale or Club Soda to top
In a Highball glass filled with ice, combine ingredients. Stir lightly. Garnish with lime wedge if desired.