Fuss-Free Cocktails

A new book offers cocktail recipes that start with grocery-store ingredients. Just add bourbon, gin, vodka…

Often, trying out a fancy new cocktail requires dropping fifty or sixty dollars at the liquor store on vermouths, liqueurs, bitters, and other esoteric ingredients that are probably going to collect dust on the top shelf for the next ten years. Or maybe you shy away from restaurant-caliber drinks because you don’t need a ten-bottle amaro library in the den. Wouldn’t you rather buy your cocktail ingredients at the grocery store with your milk and eggs—in only the quantities you need, and without the expensive side trip?

That’s the premise of The One-Bottle Cocktail, from author Maggie Hoffman, who’s seen all sides of the cocktail revolution as a longtime correspondent for the likes of Serious Eats, Wine Enthusiast, and Punch. Her new book is a collection of more than eighty recipes, sourced from bartenders all over the country, for those everyday bottles of vodka, gin, tequila, mescal, rum, brandy, and whiskey already sitting on your home bar.

Just add wholesome ingredients like green tomatoes and basil, apricot jam and lemon juice, or carrots, oranges, and paprika, a sunset-colored trio that make a sweet-and-smoky mescal drink. You could mix up any one of them tonight, after a quick run to the supermarket. To start, try this cognac-based riff on the julep that owes its indulgent flavor to store-bought fig preserves and honey.

French Julep

Cognac and fig preserves put a tasty twist on the classic Derby-season cocktail


    • 2 ounces Cognac

    • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

    • 1/2 ounce honey syrup

    • 1 teaspoon fig preserves

    • 8 fresh mint leaves

    • Mint sprig, to garnish

“Cognac always reminds me a bit of malt and honey, and figs have a complementary, slightly nutty profile,” writes Maggie Hoffman in her new book, The One Bottle Cocktail. ” David Perez of Nancy in Miami puts them together in this smooth operator, which is shaken with mint leaves so each sip finishes bright and clean. If you don’t have julep cups, no sweat; rocks glasses work fine, too, as long as they are piled high with crushed ice. While bourbon is a little too sweet here, this drink is quite tasty with rye or Scotch instead of the brandy.”


  1. Combine Cognac, lemon juice, honey syrup, fig preserves, and mint in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Fill a julep cup with crushed ice and double-strain cocktail into it. Garnish with mint sprig and a straw.

  2. Honey Syrup

    Mix two parts (say, 1 ounce) honey with one part (½ ounce) hot water and stir until dissolved.

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.