Amanda keeps her own journal of drink recipes. I add to it every now and then. Before I started bartending I had, over the years, set up a decent enough home bar and enjoyed making drinks from various books, conversations, blogs, forums, etc... Amanda enjoyed the end results but was happy to not be involved in the actual drink-making. That's at least partially on me for co-opting a corner of the kitchen and cramming it with more barware than an average person would feel comfortable around. Once this sort of thing became a job however, there were nights when I wasn't around to make our evening beverages. On those nights, if she wanted a drink, she was on her own.
The journal she has is comprised of three ingredient cocktails. Three was the goal at least. Bitters, while important, don't count toward the total. They are always on the counter and a quick dash or two takes almost no time. Garnishes don't count either and I suspect may often be overlooked entirely. And sometimes, in a drink like a Tom Collins, soda doesn't get counted since topping a drink off isn't too labor intensive. So I don't know, calling these 'three ingredient drinks' now seems misleading, maybe it should be four ingredients, occasionally maybe five. Never more than...you know what, let's just say a 'flexible three' and call it good.
It's not rocket science, making drinks, though sometimes recipes can make it seem like a bit of a hassle. The intent of the journal was to gather recipes that a) Amanda liked and b) could be made with a minimal amount of fuss. As far as I can tell, now having surveyed our kitchen in the middle of the night many times, the barware she requires usually involves some sort of glass and one of those small measuring cups that holds four ounces and has lines for teaspoons and tablespoons. Sometimes there's a jar which, I assume, had been used for stirring. I've never seen a strainer in the dish rack so I don't know what happens there.
Recently, we'd been talking about her journal and I asked her for more specifics on her drink-making routine. I can't believe we haven't had this conversation before. Turns out, more often than not, she mixes in the drinking glass (teacup, rocks, jar, etc), stirs with a knife and employs what I'm going to call a 'reverse strain' by removing the ice from the drink with a slotted spoon. Which, in a shortest-distance-between-two-points (that doesn't involve just tipping a bottle over a glass) way, I kind of love. Effective, practical and very little clean up involved. For shaken drinks it's the jar that's called upon. The lid goes on for shaking, off for drinking. No ice removal involved for those drinks.
Anyway, first up is the Berlioni from the PDT book. A delicious riff on the Negroni.
Gin, Cynar and dry vermouth...all good things. Gin runs the show, up front with plenty of juniper, eventually making room for additional herbs and a pleasant bitterness from the Cynar and dry vermouth.
A - "...awesome. Quintessentially what I'm looking for in a drink. No secret ingredients." And as I suspected, "I usually skip the garnish, but it is nice."
Berlioni - Goncalo de Souza, Berlin
1 1/2 oz Tanqueray
3/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
Garnish - Orange Twist
Stir, strain over fresh ice