Most people would put the recent rise of the Negroni down to its wonderful bitter taste but there is one other element that has seen this aperitif go forth to adorn bar menus worldwide and that is its simplicity. It has only three ingredients, but more to the point, all of the ingredients are measured out the same.
It is, in other words, one of those quaint beasts in the cocktail world – an equal parts cocktail.
Equal parts cocktails wear the illusion of simplicity like a cloak – they are relatively unfussy to make but best of all are super easy to remember. Whether it be a Negroni or the equally classic Last Word or Vieux Carré, these drinks are beloved by bartenders and amateurs alike because basically, as you might assume, you really can’t muck the portions up.
Sometimes called Equinox Cocktails, Equal Parts Cocktails are all about balance but the funny thing about symmetry is that if the ratio is slightly out of whack, then the whole drink can fail and subsequently fall like a house of cards. It’s all about understanding the ratios and why those ratios work.
Equal parts cocktails are actually a great place for budding mixologists to start because even though they are a category of drinks that are easy to make they are not, in either flavour or sophistication, drinks that have been in any way dumbed down.
So frequently, especially with modern cocktails, the ingredients can get somewhat laboured and overly fiddly. They either contain liqueurs you will never use again or syrups and shrubs that you need to make from scratch. Now there is nothing wrong with that, and there are times when a little labour goes a long way but to also have the option of creating a nuanced libation with only three or four easily obtainable ingredients without all the fuzz of varied ratios, has it’s virtues also.
Take the classic Cornell Special, where Gin, Benedictine, Lemon Juice and Soda Water Combine in equal quantities results in a slightly herbaceous, yet crisp and sparkling drink that is perfect for a summer evening. Alternatively, the En Cuarto (which means ‘in quarters’ or ‘in fourths’ in Spanish has Pisco, Gin, Dry Vermouth and Sweet Vermouth in equal measure.
Once you have made a few of these drinks, there is the temptation to experiment because it’s so easy to tweak a base recipe and make something all your own. and fiddle with whatever you have on hand
The other virtue of Equal Parts Cocktails is that they are so easy to batch for barbecues and parties. By changing the proportion of a Far East Peach from one ounce of Rye, Mezcal, Peach Liqueur and Yuzu Juice to a cup of each, you suddenly have cocktails for eight rather than just one.
Here are a selection of Equal Parts Cocktails that we rather like but we suggest that you play around – not with the proportions of course but definitely with the ingredients.