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The Best Two-Ingredient Cocktails For Summer, According To Bartenders

Technically, summer is rolling, with weather from coast to coast feeling like it’s mid-July. We’ve already announced our cocktail of the season — the beer spritz — and you won’t be shocked to learn that light, easy, and refreshing won the day. That’s the warm weather drink trifecta, right there.

Truth be told, quarantine has us leaning way into the “easy” part of that equation. That’s why we’re nominating 2020 as the “Summer of Two-Ingredient Cocktails.” To call out a few favorites under that banner, we enlisted the help of some of our favorite bartenders. Check out their favorite thirst-quenching two-ingredient drinks using gin, whiskey, rum, and tequila.

The Ranch Water

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Megan Radke, bartender at Canon in Seattle

My favorite 2-ingredient cocktail is “The Ranch Water”. It’s is just El Tesoro Blanco and Topo Chico Soda Water and has been my go to lately. I’m an agave girl and adding some bubbles is the perfect way to have something tasty that lasts awhile.

7 & 7

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Hay Culham, beverage manager at Bonsai at Hilton Pensacola Beach in Pensacola, Florida

I have a handful of two-ingredient cocktails that are my go-tos. It depends on my mood and the environment I’m in. If I had to choose just one, it would have to be a 7 & 7. Simple, refreshing, and easy.

Scotch and Coconut Water

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Anna Mains, brand ambassador at Monkey Shoulder

Scotch (I suggest Monkey Shoulder) and coconut water. Tropical flavors and scotch play really well together. I fell in love with this simple cocktail in Puerto Rico, it’s a staple there. It’s perfectly light, refreshing, and dangerously delicious.

Whiskey Sour

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Sebastian Derbomez, brand advocacy manager at William Grant & Sons

Lemon and sugar! They are the two ingredients necessary to make a refreshing sour, you are then free to select your favorite spirit and alternate as you wish. Just add whiskey and you have yourself a simple whiskey sour (even though that technically make it ingredients).

Gin & Tonic

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Vance Henderson, brand ambassador at Hendrick’s Gin

I have many two-ingredient favorites, but my hat currently rests next to a take on the gin & tonic called the “Whimsical Tonic” which uses 1 ½ parts Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice and three parts elderflower tonic. Add in a cucumber slice and some petite edible flowers and we’re set for sipping time.

Martini

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Jessie Smyth, bar director at Genever in Los Angeles

It would have to be some kind of martini using Gray Whale gin. Depending on the time of day, I’ll go from a reverse martini (two parts vermouth : one part gin) to a 50/50 (equal parts gin and vermouth) to a more classic ratio of 2 gin : 1 vermouth. I love the different flavors that get highlighted in both the gin and the vermouth as you tweak something so simple as the proportion of each. It’s really a fun experiment. Swapping out the dry vermouth for a blanc vermouth, or Lillet, or Salers, or maybe even sherry changes things too. There are endless flavor combinations that can amplify the nutty almond notes, the salty komb, or the fresh mint in a gin like Gray Whale.

Bourbon Lemonade

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Samara Rivers, founder of the Black Bourbon Society

I love a highball (whiskey and soda) and a Bourbon Lemonade. It’s so easy and simply refreshing with a lot of ice. There are few things more refreshing than the combination of bourbon and lemonade on a hot, summer day.

Simple Paloma

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Piero Procida, bartender at The London West Hollywood in Los Angeles

A Simple Paloma. You can leave out the Lime Juice and Simple Syrup and just do equal parts of tequila and grapefruit flavored soda like Jarritos or a Fresca and served on the rocks.

Whiskey Highball

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Lenny Eckstein, co-founder and head distiller of Deerhammer Distillery in Buena Vista, Colorado

The highball is where it’s at for me. Soda water and whiskey (I’ll typically use my own Deerhammer American Single Malt) and a garnish of expressed Lemon peel and mixed into a tall ice-filled glass. This is my steady sub out for a beer in every situation, and I’ve actually become quite fond of garnishing or steeping with some fresh-picked whole leaf hops when they are in season.

Tequila & Soda

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Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami

Tequila & soda. Agave spirits are already great but, drawing out the flavor in a tall drink can really help certain components stand out. A squeeze of lime or grapefruit can pull everything together into a subtly acidic trifecta.

Dark ‘N’ Stormy

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Gravy Thomas, global advocacy and ambassador community manager at William Grant & Sons

Even with just two ingredients, the “Dark ‘N’ Stormy” has always been a favorite of mine. It’s so simple but it does the trick. There’s something that the ginger beer does to rum that makes your taste buds go wild.

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