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1,001 Cocktail Ideas: Improvising with Three Ingredients - Consumatorium

1,001 Cocktail Ideas: Improvising with Three Ingredients

The New Orange is a great example of a three ingredient cocktail.

The New Orange is a great example of a three ingredient cocktail.

Lately I’ve been posting most of my cocktail activities on Twitter – you can find out what’s going on by searching for #consumatorium. And I encourage all of you to use the same hashtag to post your own adventures!

I’ve been mostly playing with the three-ingredient improvised cocktail. It’s really enjoyable and a great way to learn what goes together well and what doesn’t. Very few of these have been hard to drink, though of course some I will make again and others I won’t.

The general formula is simple:

  • 2 oz hard liquor
  • 1/2 oz sweet liqueur
  • 1/2 oz bitter liqueur


  • 2 oz hard liquor
  • 1 oz moderately sweet liqueur
  • 2-3 dashes of bitters

All of these are prepared by putting the ingredients in a shaker over ice, shaking or stirring as you see fit, and straining into a cocktail glass. Garnish or not, depending on how motivated you’re feeling. While you’re drinking it, come up with a name and post it on Twitter.

For hard liquor, there is in the whiskey category rye, bourbon, blended scotch, and Irish whiskey; in the gin category there is dry, Old Tom, and plymouth style, there is rum in dark, light, and spiced, tequila in a normal reposado or a mezcal, and even vodka if you’d like the other ingredients to shine through. This is just a partial list, of course, but I’ve listed thirteen base liquors.

In the bitter liqueur category I would include Amaros, Campari, Cynar, Lillet, and maybe dry vermouth. There are fewer of these which is why I mention the alternative formulation, and for starters you can use Angostura and Orange bitters. That’s seven.

The sweet liqueurs are almost limitless, but here are a few I use: Benedictine, St Germain, Domaine de Canton, sweet or blanco vermouth, Drambuie, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, AppleJack, Port wine, and Chartreuse. I’ve only included a couple of flavored brandies but there are many more of those.  In any case, that’s eleven, and if you multiply it out we have 1,001 different cocktail ideas.  I would be surprised if very many of these are not drinkable, though I’m a little suspicious of the mezcal combinations.

Try it tonight. It’s a great way to get started with your own creative bartending.


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Dave JilkAbout Dave Jilk (76 Posts)


  1. Will Herman says

    This is such a great post. It applies to so many drinks. Probably way over 1,001 🙂

    You can take this idea a step further, too. Tonight I’m having an Old King Cole – 2oz Bourbon, 1/4 oz Fernet Branca and 1/4 oz simple syrup. Fernet Branca has such a distinct taste (very strong and bitter) you could never balance it with simple syrup if you upped the amounts to 1/2 oz each. Still, equal parts at the lower dosage is what works. Most ingredients will fit into the 2-1/2-1/2 ratio Dave outlines, but some stronger ones may need a gentler touch. As I type this, I’m even thinking of Drambuie, which tends to overwhelm every drink I try it with. Like Fernet Branca, a little goes a very long way.

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