Three ingredients, three questions, drink up



Gin+ Campari + sweet vermouth = Negroni
  • Lisarae Photo Design
  • Gin+ Campari + sweet vermouth = Negroni

J.K. OHanlon
  • Lisarae Photo Design
  • J.K. O'Hanlon
Local author J. K. O'Hanlon asked her husband, Paul, to mix her a cocktail one evening. "His eyes got round, and beads of sweat pearled on his forehead," she later wrote. "Here was one of the most competent human beings I've ever known stressed out at the thought of making a drink."

This incident was the inspiration for O'Hanlon to write and self-publish a 123-page handbook - complete with glossy pages and beautiful color photographs by Lisarae Turnbull-Oliva - called 3 Ingredient Cocktails. The book is available locally at Hy-Vee Wine & Spirits at 7711 State Line, Windermere & Bergamont Ltd. at 307 East 55th Street, and Gomer's Midtown at 3838 Broadway.

Because every cocktail recipe in O'Hanlon's book - ranging from a Cuba Libre to a Presbyterian - requires only three ingredients, Fat City narrowed our questions for the author and cocktail fan to...three.

(1) What three bottles of liquor should be in every home bar?

Gin, of course. And because it's become so popular lately, tequila. Silver, 100-percent agave tequila. And every home bar needs a bottle of vodka because it's so versatile and neutral. It's technically odorless and flavorless and takes on the flavor of the mixer. It's an easy starting place for people just learning to drink cocktails.

(2) Many of your cocktail recipes call for other spirits or liqueurs. Which of these should you have on hand?

Triple Sec is a good, all-around liqueur to have on hand since it's an important component for drinks like the Margarita, the Cosmpolitan, the Long Island Iced Tea. I like having a bottle of bitters on hand and vermouth, maybe a bottle of Kahlua and a brandy or cognac. But you can be choosy here. You don't need to spend a lot of money to stock a home bar.

(3) What three classic cocktails should any home mixologist be ready to shake up in an instant?

A martini, absolutely. And a Sidecar. It's so incredibly yummy and has such a nostalgic quality. A Sidecar was the precursor to so many drinks that combine orange liqueur with citrus, including the Margarita. I also like the Jack Rose. Everybody seems to like this drink. It's a great autumn and winter beverage.

O'Hanlon's next book, due out next fall, will be called 12 Happy Hours. "It's a book to empower people to entertain spontaneously. You don't have to be Martha Stewart. I'll show you how."

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