A complex, multi-faceted cocktail is a wonderful thing, but on a particularly hot or lazy day, we want something potent and delicious, without having to clutter up the kitchen counter with a half-dozen ingredients. With no obscure ingredients or time-consuming prep, these 20 cocktails call for a maximum of 3 ingredients (plus an optional garnish, here and there), meaning they’re virtually zero-effort: the perfect recipe for relaxation.
Bright red and bittersweet, this Campari-based Italian cocktail eventually became known as the Americano due to its popularity with American expats during prohibition.
See the recipe for Americano »
Szarlotka is Polish for apple pie, and that’s exactly what this two-ingredient highball tastes like. It’s a match made in heaven — the unfiltered apple juice teases out Zubrowka’s spicy notes.
See the recipe for Szarlotka »
Named for the famous hat-shaped restaurant, this bourbon and grapefruit cocktail is sweetened with honey.
See the recipe for Brown Derby »
An alternative to rum and Coke, this drink utilizes lighter, brighter grapefruit soda, which lets the bold character of a pot-distilled English-style rum shine through.
See the recipe for Flamingo »
The clean, summery aroma of basil completely transforms the classic julep, traditionally made with mint. The drink is also traditionally made with bourbon—here, we replaced that with Jameson Irish whiskey, whose subtle citrus notes intermingle beautifully with the sweet herbs.
See the recipe for Basil Julep »
Some say the secret to mixing cola and red wine together is using the cheapest plonk you can get. We prefer a slightly better, dry, tannic red. This Basque version, a popular refresher on the shores of San Sebastian, is the best-known, although the drink is also popular throughout Spain, in parts of Eastern Europe, and in South America, under different names.
See the recipe for Kalimotxo »
Manhattan Extra Special
New York City’s cult favorite espresso-flavored soda, Manhattan Special, is the basis for this simple, genius drink, ideal for sipping outdoors on a warm sunny day.
See the recipe for Manhattan Extra Special »
One of the first mixed drinks, the mint-laden julep was popularized on 18th-century Southern plantations.
Sgroppino, a slushy combination of lemon sorbet, vodka, and prosecco, is common in Italy as a palate cleanser, a dessert, or a pre-dinner drink. This recipe calls for the ingredients to be whisked together to create a chilly, frothy libation.
See the recipe for Sgroppino »
This riff on the classic martini substitutes crisp, saline, bone-dry Manzanilla sherry for vermouth, which brings out a totally different side of the gin.
See the recipe for Sherry Martini »
Found all over Italy, the spritz is a classically Venetian cocktail that pairs well with all sorts of cicheti.
This refreshing cocktail recipe combines vermouth, triple sec, and aperol for a slightly bitter, citrusy aperitif.
See the recipe for Canale Torino »
A London dry gin can stand up to a lot more vermouth than you might suspect. The original 1910s-era formula for this iconic drink demonstrates that fact elegantly.
The CCR is a Caribbean refresher composed of a splash of Chartreuse (a French herbal liqueur), coconut water, and aged Martinique rum.
See the recipe for CCR »
The simple method of mixing champagne and orange juice, popularized in Paris and London in the 1920s, has an enduring appeal.
See the recipe for Mimosa »
Arak and Grapefruit
On the beaches of Tel Aviv, and elsewhere in the Middle East, a bracing blend of arak (a grape-derived, unsweetened, anise-flavored liquor) and fresh grapefruit juice is a popular refresher. Arak can be found in the United States but is not always available; ouzo makes a fine substitute.
See the recipe for Arak and Grapefruit »
Dubonnet a l’Orange Cocktail
This tall drink marries the quinine-fortified aperitif Dubonnet with zesty fresh orange juice, perfect for a sipping on a warm breezy evening.
See the recipe for Dubbonet a L’Orange Cocktail »
Bourbon is an unabashedly Southern spirit, but this classic cocktail was invented in the heart of Yankeedom: New York City.
See the recipe for Manhattan »
Tinto de Verano
Tinto de verano, which translates to “red wine of summer” is a surprising combination of red wine and lemon-lime soda. This cool spritzer is a perfect refreshment for hot summer days. If a lightly-sweetened lemon-lime soda like Spain’s “gaseosa” can’t be found, you can substitute Squirt or 7-Up cut with a splash of plain seltzer.
See the recipe for Tinto de Verano »
This luxurious drink calls for apricot brandy or liquor, which rounds out the intensity of vodka and orange juice with elegant sweetness.
See the recipe for Fur Collar »