Five Simple 3-Ingredient Cocktails to Know

An M22 Batch 22 cocktail on a napkin

In culinary school, many classical curricula teach students to become fluent in preparing what are called the “Mother Sauces.” In French cuisine, these are the five sauces that can pretty much be used as the foundation for any sauce you may want to create in the kitchen. (For reference, the five Mother Sauces are Bechamel, Veloute (white stock), Espagnole (brown stock), Hollandaise, and Tomate.)

Just as in French cuisine, there are several basic “families” of cocktails that form the core foundation of just about any drink you might want to create at your bar. By most accounts, there are 12 different “families” in mixology: Buck/Mule, Cobbler, Cocktail, Crusta, Fizz, Flip, Rickey, Sling, Smash, Sour, Swizzle, and Toddy. Although some of these categories remain barely known (when’s the last time you had a Crusta?), a few—like the Mother Sauces—provide the basic roadmap for creating an infinite number of cocktail variations.

For the purposes of this article, let’s not worry about “families,” but rather, let’s look at the basic structure of some of the most popular cocktail styles on menus today. Let’s look at the Manhattan, the Negroni, The Mule, The Martini, and The Cosmo. These drinks are a good place to start if you want to know five basic formulas for five diverse styles of cocktails. And the great thing is that each of them is a 3-ingredient cocktail (plus a garnish or two if you’re so inclined).

The Basic Manhattan
A classic Manhattan cocktail is whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters:

  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters.

A Manhattan is traditionally stirred over ice, strained, and served up in a coupe, rocks, or martini glass. The most common garnish for this is a cherry of one sort or another.

If you’re not a big whiskey fan (or if you just want to play) you can try the M22, which is the less-sweet aquavit hack for a Manhattan. Again, only three main ingredients:

  • 2 ounces Batch 22 Classic Gold aquavit
  • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • Dashes of Angostura bitters, optional

Stir ingredients on ice, strain, and serve in a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry (we like to add a splash of the cherry liquid or a dash of Luxardo Sangue Morlacco to punch up the fruit).

The Basic Negroni
The classic negroni is a simple 3-part cocktail:

  • 1 part gin
  • 1 part sweet vermouth
  • 1 part Campari

The ingredients are combined in a rocks glass with ice, stirred to chill, and garnished (usually with an orange peel).

The Batch hack—the Batchroni—simply substitutes Batch 22 for the gin. The aquavit provides an herbal and floral component similar to the gin but does it with different herbs and floral notes.

The Batchroni is:

  • 1 ounce Batch 22 Classic Gold aquavit
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 ounce Campari

Combine the ingredients in a rocks glass with ice and stir. Garnish with an orange peel or wheel. If you want a more elegant look, you can shake the ingredients over ice and strain them into a martini glass.

The Basic Martini

Technically, a martini is not even a 3-ingredient cocktail. You can chill some vodka, gin, or aquavit and pour it into a martini glass with a garnish and call it a martini. You can also shake any of the above with a dash or a good amount of vermouth, strain it into a cocktail glass, and have a martini.

One of our favorite martinis is the Batch Dirty Martini, which is a 3-ingredient cocktail only because we use two types of vermouth:

Dirty Martini

  • 3 ounces Batch 22 Classic Gold aquavit
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  • Add any amount of olive brine and/or olive bitters to taste

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake, and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with olives and a lemon twist, if desired.

The Basic Cosmo
Okay, the basic Cosmo is really a four-ingredient cocktail if you count the lime juice in the traditional recipe, but the Batch hack requires only a squeeze of fresh lime to your taste. The classic Cosmo is:

  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1 ounce cranberry juice
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake to chill, and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

The Batch Cosmo
Here, we substitute Batch 22 for vodka, we use pomegranate juice instead of cranberry, and we use Triple Sec instead of Cointreau (though using Cointreau or cranberry with this is perfectly delicious).

  • 2 ounces Batch 22 Classic Gold aquavit
  • 1 ounce pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 Triple Sec
  • Squeeze of fresh lime juice to your taste

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake to chill, strain into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with orange peel or lime wheel.

The Basic Mule

A Mule (also called a Buck) is basically a cocktail made with ginger ale or ginger beer (the ginger gives it a “kick,” hence the name). The basic Mule, most often made with vodka, is a simple  3-ingredient cocktail creation:

  • 1 1/2 ounces of vodka
  • 1/4 ounce lime juice
  • 4 ounces ginger beer

Combine the vodka and lime in a copper mug or highball glass with ice, and stir to combine. Add the ginger beer and stir gently to combine. Garnish with a lime wedge.

The Batch Happy Mule is a simple variation on the classic formula:

  • 2 ounces Batch 22 Classic Gold aquavit
  • 1/4 fresh lime juice
  • 4 ounces ginger beer
  • Dash of Angostura bitters, if desired

Combine the non-carbonated ingredients in a cocktail glass or mug with ice. Stir to combine. Add the ginger beer and stir gently. Garnish with a lime wedge or wheel.

If you commit these basic formulas to memory, you’ll have the basic knowledge you need to create all kinds of fun and interesting variations. You can do a Mule with tequila or gin instead of vodka or aquavit. You can try making a Cosmo with cherry juice or even mango, passionfruit, or blueberry. Once you understand the basics, you’re free to let your creativity and passions go wild. Enjoy!

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