The Secret Formula For Perfect Cocktails, Revealed

It all starts with a prime number

By The Editors
July 27, 2017 9:00 am

The first cocktail that ever surprised me had three ingredients.

It was 10 years ago at New York’s Milk & Honey, the late Sasha Petraske’s groundbreaking cocktail bar that put an emphasis on a proper pour, good ingredients and straightforward mixology.

The conversation that followed my order (it was for a tequila honeysuckle, recipe below) informed me for a lifetime. My bartender made an offhand comment about how anything more than three ingredients meant you were losing the character of the spirit. So for this edition of That’s the Spirit, we went out and asked seven of our favorite mixologists to go minimal. Three ingredients, and bitters count as one. Ice does not. Nor do garnishes (one cheats a bit; such is life).

Below: seven perfect three-ingredient cocktails.

Enjoy responsibly.

From Westbound’s new Bar Manager Akos Orosz

1.5 oz. dry gin
1 oz. Sauvignon Blanc (or similar white wine)
3/4 oz. of elderflower syrup (IKEA brand works great or St. Germain)

Shake and double strain. Garnish with lemon peel.

2 oz. tequila

3/4 oz. lime
3/4 oz. honey syrup

Add everything to shaker, fill with ice, shake. Strain into glass. (The variation we originally tried at New York’s Milk & Honey which, years later, inspired this piece actually added 2 dashes of Angostura bitters —and the drink was called a Juschu —but that’s four ingredients.)

Recipe from Brian Howard, General Manager/Bar Director at August 1 Five (SF)

2 oz Ancho Reyes
0.5 oz simple syrup
0.5 oz lime juice
5 mint leaves

Shake/double strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a spanked mint leaf.

by Jesse Vida (BlackTail)

“The Perfect Daiquiri is the ultimate balance of sour, sweet and spirit,” says Vida. “The ideal combination of texture, brightness and depth, it never outstays its welcome and is a great cocktail to enjoy all summer long.”

1 oz lime juice
.5 oz rich cane syrup
2.5 oz Plantation Rum*

Shake and pour.

(*Note: BlackTail uses their own rum mix, but suggested Plantation as a worthy substitute for home cocktailers.)

Mario Flores, Bartender at Maple & Ash (Chicago)

2 oz. Ransom Old Tom Gin
.25 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes grapefruit bitters

Build all ingredients in mixing glass, stir and pour over a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnished with a grapefruit peel.

Nick Ascenzo, Beverage Manager of Trader Vic’s (Emeryville, CA)

Says Ascenzo: “I like this simple, summery, tiki take on the classic Bahia because you only need 3 ingredients to take you on vacation.”

3 parts pineapple juice
2-3 parts light rum (depending on how strong you want it)
1 part coconut cream or coconut syrup (depending on your decadence preference)

Pour all ingredients over ice and shake OR pour all ingredients in a blender with ice and blend.

3 parts Cinzano Prosecco

2 parts Aperol
1 dash soda ice and a slice of orange

Add ice and a slice of orange, pour in the Prosecco, the Aperol and add a dash of soda. This avoids the Aperol settling at the bottom.