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A Home Bartender’s 3-Ingredient Guide

Fall 2018

robert simonson three-ingredient cocktails

Daniel Krieger

People often ask Robert Simonson, the New York Times cocktail writer for more than a decade, what drinks he makes at his home bar. His latest book, 3-Ingredient Cocktails: An Opinionated Guide to the Most Enduring Drinks in the Cocktail Canon, helps answer that question. The book, a finalist for the 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Awards in the beverage category, includes several timeless classics, a sampling of easy-to-make modern drinks and a few of his very own recipes.

Simonson ’86, who studied English literature and covered theater — under the pseudonym Robespierre Simonson — for the Daily Northwestern in the 1980s, says we’re in the midst of a long-running cocktail revival, and that popularity has inspired an influx of cocktail books. “In a lot of these books the recipes are very complicated,” says Simonson. “I thought it would be a good idea to remind people that a good cocktail shouldn’t be hard for someone to make at home.”

Here are two of his favorites:

Remember the Alimony
1 ¼    ounces fino sherry
1 ¼    ounces Cynar (an artichoke liqueur from Italy)
¾      ounce Beefeater gin
Garnish with an orange twist

“It’s kind of a ridiculous title, but it’s a good drink,” Simonson says of mixologist Dan Greenbaum’s creation. “It doesn’t sound like those three [ingredients] together would marry well, but it’s actually perfectly balanced.”

The Eau Claire Old Fashioned
2    ounces Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac
1    bar spoon simple syrup
3    dashes Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters
Garnish with an orange twist

“I usually don’t print my own recipes,” says Simonson, a Wisconsinite who now lives in Brooklyn. “But every now and then I come up with one that I think is respectable enough.”

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