Photos: Ten Speed Press, Kelly Puleio © 2018

Even if you consider yourself interested in cocktails, how deep is your home liquor selection, really? My bar cart has nice bottles of the stuff I like—gin, aged rum, fernet, a few types of whiskey, armagnac from a trip to France—and standards like vodka, white rum, and tequila to round those out.

So when I flip through most “serious” cocktail recipe books, it’s wishful thinking. I’d need a bottle of Amaro Nonino for that drink, I sigh, or a bottle of Creme Yvette for that recipe. To make just a handful of drinks, I’d easily set myself back a few hundred dollars.

Author Maggie Hoffman felt my pain. She founded Serious Eats’ drinks section, so though she herself has a liquor collection that nearly anyone would drool over—a bar cart plus two closets of liquor, including deep selections of gin, whiskey, and Spanish and French amari—she still hit a wall when trying to execute certain cocktail recipes.

“Even though I’m incredibly well-stocked, sometimes there’s a book of 100 recipes and I can make two of them,” she told The Takeout. “I wanted to write a book where anyone can make the drinks.”

The result is The One-Bottle Cocktail, out March 6, featuring more than 80 recipes each using just a single spirit: vodka, gin, brandy, whiskey, tequila/mezcal, or rum. The recipes come from big names in the bar world—bartenders at Death & Co., Ox, Amor y Amargo, Hale Pele—and though they’re relatively simple to make, their flavors are modern and sophisticated. Complexity comes not from liquors but from herbs, fruit, syrups, tea, honey, yogurt, horseradish, soy sauce, coffee, and other relatively easy-to-find pantry items.

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“I tried to make sure everything was at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s,” Hoffman says. “But the way to make surprising and delightful drinks is to move beyond ‘Oh I have lemonade.’”


So, how much better are these recipes than mixing gin into your LaCroix? Much better. I spent last weekend working through a handful of recipes in this book, and I only had to pick up about $15 worth of groceries to make them—$7 of which was spent on fancy orange marmalade. This book would be ideal in the spring and summer, when fresh produce would make all the difference in some of the fruit- and herb-heavy cocktails. But even in February, I was able to find the produce I needed.

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I started with Slippery When Wet (recipe below), a gin-based cocktail that I chose because 1) I have a ton of gin, and 2) I’m not sure I’ve ever made a cocktail with Greek yogurt before. It turned out to be a visually gorgeous drink, and even though I used conventional grocery-store berries, the flavors were bright, lightly tangy, and balanced. I enjoyed the kiss of honey in the drink, and would love to play around with flavored honeys like lavender or rosemary. (I used Koval gin for the base.)

My My My Tai (Photo: Kate Bernot)

Next, I moved on to My My My Thai, a Mai Tai riff that only uses one rum. This is bananas!, I thought. I love tiki drinks but feel defeated by their laundry list of strange liqueurs and fruit juices. This one came together with just a few ingredients—including almond milk, who knew?—and it tasted like a delicious facsimile of a Mai Tai, if not quite a carbon copy. It was my favorite-tasting of the drinks I made, evocative of tiki but not sugary or heavy. (I used Clement V.S.O.P. aged rhum agricole as the base.)

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Lastly, I dipped into whiskey territory with a stirred cocktail, Spanish Penny. Just three ingredients (rye, honey, sherry vinegar) created a rounded, contemporary, really delicious rye concoction that seriously anyone could put together—even after mixing two other cocktails. (I used Bulleit Rye as the base.)


One of the best inclusions in this book is the “Bonus Drinks” section at the end of each spirit’s chapter: If you really like rum, for example, this page lists which other recipes in the book could be made by substituting rum in for the base spirit. Hoffman says she “regretted it” when writing the book because of all the extra effort it took to recreate each drink with five other spirits, but I think it’s invaluable, essentially doubling the number of cocktails in each chapter.

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When I first picked up this book, I thought it was a clever premise but wouldn’t yield drinks much more flavorful than a standard gin and tonic or vodka-lemonade. I was so wrong. It’s a worthy buy for home bartenders just starting out as well as those who consider themselves operating at a 201 level. Many of the recipes are simple enough to memorize, riff on, adapt, and make your own—I can’t wait to shake and stir my way through the rest of the pages.


Slippery When Wet

Photo: Kate Bernot

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Maggie Hoffman: I adore this fragrant and refreshing strawberry-gin drink, created by Shannon Tebay Sidle of New York’s Slowly Shirley and Death & Co. The secret ingredient is a dollop of unsweetened Greek yogurt, which gives the cocktail a tangy flavor and subtly creamy texture. The final result isn’t sweet or smoothie-like; this is definitely still a cocktail. A sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper highlights the gin’s herbal character, but I also like this drink with grassy blanco tequila or a full-bodied aged rum. If your fridge doesn’t dispense crushed ice, fill a freezer bag with cubes, wrap them in a dish towel, and go wild with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin.

  • 1 large or 2 small ripe strawberries, halved
  • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. undiluted honey
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 heaping tsp. plain Greek yogurt

Garnish: freshly ground black pepper and a vertical slice of strawberry

Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and honey in a cocktail shaker and muddle until well broken up. Add gin and Greek yogurt and fill shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 15 seconds. Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice, then double-strain cocktail into it. Grind black pepper on top and garnish with the strawberry slice.

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Reprinted with permission from The One-Bottle Cocktail: More than 80 Recipes with Fresh Ingredients and a Single Spirit by Maggie Hoffman, copyright 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.