Three is seen as the perfect number to achieve harmony, which alludes to these drinks being well balanced. Make no mistake, these three ingredient cocktails will not be boring. They are usually composed of a base spirit, a liqueur, and a citrus, sweet, or bitter element.
These classic cocktails have the added benefit of having stood the test of time.
Created in honor of the 1880s musical, the Adonis that achieved a 500 show milestone for its time. It has a brilliant combination of dry and sweet flavors with a dash of citrus. This three ingredient cocktail is well balanced and slightly wine forward. Its sherry base combined with sweet vermouth and orange bitters makes it a low-proof, easy drinking cocktail.
Another easy drinking sherry cocktail, the Bamboo, swaps out the sweet vermouth for dry vermouth.
The Old Pal is one of many historic cocktails by Scottish-born Harry MacElhone, the proprietor of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France. He created this drink in the 1920s for William “Sparrow” Robinson, a sports editor for the New York Herald in Paris. It’s a three ingredient cocktail with rye whiskey, Campari, and dry vermouth. It is essentially a drier version of the Boulevardier, which was also invented by MacElhone.
Dating back to the late 19th century, the Horse’s Neck is identifiable by its long curly lemon peel. It was first served with just ginger beer and bitters, in 1910 the brandy “kick” was added. The drink can also be found using bourbon instead of brandy.
A drink made famous by the greatest spy of all time, his name is Bond, James Bond. He first orders the Vesper in Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel, Casino Royal. He tells the barman, “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake in very well until it’s ice-cold. Then add a large thin slice of lemon peel Got it?” Fleming invented and named the drink after the novel’s heroine and Bond’s love interest.
Kina Lillet is no longer in production, its best substitute is Cocchi Americano or for a less bitter flavor Lillet Blanc can be used. The Corpse Reviver No. 2 is another classic that also uses Lillet Blanc.
The Hotel Ritz in Paris claims the origin of the Sidecar with its first recorded recipe by Henry MacElhone, in 1922. This is widely debated, as there are mentions of other bartenders in London and New York having created the drink. However, each had their own variation on the drink’s ratios and the recipe has been refined over the years.
It received its name from the commonly used motorcycle sidecar during World Word I. The recipe evolved from the original sour, much like the rum-based daiquiri. The Brandy Crusta is a direct descendant of the Sidecar and if brandy or cognac aren’t around, bourbon is a great substitute.
Created at Harry’s Bar in Paris during the 1920s by a true man-about-town, Erskine Gwynne. This American-born writer founded a monthly magazine called Boulevardier. The drink’s flavor is best described as a bittersweet Manhattan or a whiskey Negroni.
This recipe shares two of its three ingredients with both cocktails. The bourbon and sweet vermouth with the Manhattan and Campari and sweet vermouth with the Negroni. The addition of bourbon rounds out the bittersweetness of the Campari and sweet vermouth that makes for a rich and intriguing cocktail.