We can thank Mad Men for the old-fashioned cocktail craze that’s reinventing the way the average bar patron—we’re not talking billionaires here—orders a drink. Out with screwdrivers and rum and Cokes, in with Manhattans and gin gimlets. It’s modern nostalgia at its finest.
Problem is, with sophisticated tastes come sophisticated prices. The going rate for a high-end cocktail at your local speakeasy is usually in the mid-teens, which can burn a hole in your pocket during happy hour, or more likely, that make-or-break first (or second, or third…) date. So, what are your options if you don’t want to drop all of your hard-earned cash on class in a glass?
Make Don Draper–approved drinks at home. And don’t worry, it doesn’t require a fully loaded bar. “Good cocktails don’t always need multiple ingredients,” says Johny Swet, beverage director and partner at Cole’s Greenwich Village in New York City. “Sometimes less is more, and in that case the quality of the spirit becomes key.”
According to Swet, whipping up a “nice deep bourbon with a boutique ginger ale and a squeeze of lemon” isn’t rocket science. Plus, touches like a simple garnish or fresh-squeezed juice will result in a much-better finished product compared to drinks that are made using commercial mixers. (In other words, kick the diet soda and energy drinks to the curb.)
We’ve summoned Swet to provide three-ingredient cocktails that are quick and easy—and won’t sacrifice your integrity. One cardinal sin to avoid: don’t overdo the booze. “More alcohol doesn’t mean a better drink,” says Swet. “A drink should be sipped on, savored, and enjoyed while listening to music or having good conversation. It should not be overpowering.”
The Jack Rose
2 oz Apple Jack
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz grenadine
Shake with ice, strain into a martini glass. For an extra touch, make your own grenadine by reducing a bottle of pomegranate juice by half with 1 tbsp of sugar and a cinnamon stick.
1 lime, quartered
2 tsp fine sugar
2 oz Cachaça
Stir with crushed ice until frosty.
2 oz rye whiskey
1 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes bitters
Stir with ice, strain into martini glass.