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The Secret to a Well-Made Cocktail? Sticking to Just Three Ingredients

A good drink doesn’t need a laundry list of hard-to-find ingredients.

Colin Price

While the craft cocktail movement has expanded palates, it’s also cluttered back bars. Celebrated cocktail writer Robert Simonson’s book 3-Ingredient Cocktails, available today, stands as an antidote to bloated bar carts — and a starting point for those looking to build a home bar from scratch. It’s loaded with both classic and contemporary recipes, all uncomplicated, easy and incorporating ingredients you’ll actually use.

“One ingredient, you’ve got a nice dram. Two, you’ve got a highball. Get three things to marry together, you’ve likely got a cocktail on your hands,” Simonson writes. “More than three and you’ve got a more complicated cocktail, but not necessarily a better one.” The three-ingredient cocktail, he notes, is pure: naturally balanced and crafted so that each ingredient serves a purpose.

Case in point: the Rob Roy, a drink often overshadowed by its more popular cousin, the Manhattan. For the home bartender, a Rob Roy could not be more perfect. It’s incredibly easy and it doesn’t call for top-shelf blended Scotch — a mid-range bottle is actually the better option.

Rob Roy

Combine 2 ounces blended Scotch, 1 ounce sweet vermouth, 2 dashes Angostura bitters in a mixing glass filled with ice and stir until chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe. Express a lemon twist over the drink and drop into the glass.

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