Cocktails

It Takes Two to Tango

November 06, 2020

Story: Punch Staff

Photo: Lizzie Munro

Cocktails

It Takes Two to Tango

November 06, 2020

Story: Punch Staff

Art: Lizzie Munro

Stirred, shaken or built, the two-ingredient cocktail goes well beyond the highball.

Much has been made of the three-ingredient cocktail, and rightfully so. A great number of our most beloved classics are triptychs, from the Manhattan to the Daiquiri to the Dark ’n’ Stormy and, of course, the Martini (if you include orange bitters). As such, the three-ingredient cocktail has become a trusted blueprint and shorthand for straight-up ease. 

But what of the two-ingredient drink?

The highball (effectively spirit plus anything bubbly) is the category’s undisputed ambassador. In terms of ease, it is, by nature of being built in the glass, even more laid back. (Unless of course you consider the Japanese Whisky Highball, a drink that proves perfecting the combination of sparkling water and whisky is far from a no-brainer—it’s a lifelong pursuit.) For the majority of us, however, the two-ingredient drink is synonymous with the call drink: Gin & Tonic, 7&7, whiskey-ginger, vodka-soda. All worthy standards consumed and concocted with varying degrees of care.

Recipe

Mezcaletti

Mezcal and Amaro Meletti—need we say more?

Recipe

Scotch & Soda

A dead-simple build inspired by the classic Japanese Highball.

Recipe

Alfonso XIII

Dubonnet and fino star in this 1936 reboot.

But the highball is only one drink in the two-ingredient canon. Lesser-known classics like Pink Gin (a no-bullshit combo of bitters and, well, gin), and the softer Alfonso XIII (equal parts fino sherry and Dubonnet), prove that often all you need are two complex, aromatic ingredients to make a contemplative drink. The same is true of the ascendant Italian aperitivo, the Garibaldi (fluffy orange juice and Campari) and its many offspring; or the Milano-Torino, another unsung hero of aperitivo that calls for Campari and sweet vermouth and is likewise a trailhead for the drinker who seeks adventure without having to work too hard for it. In other words, perfect for the moment. Here are a few drinks that get right to the point without sacrificing deliciousness.

Recipe

Jelena

A harmonious two-ingredient drink with a jolt of nitrogen.

Recipe

Calvados & Tonic

France’s answer to the G&T.

Recipe

Pink Gin

Just two ingredients: gin and bitters.

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