12 “Delicious” 2-Ingredient Cocktails You’ll Want to Make All Summer Long 

published Jun 2, 2024
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Topp Chico cocktail.
Credit: Mackenzie Filson

I’ve been saying it forever: You don’t really need a cocktail shaker and fancy ice, or even a semi-short list of ingredients to make a great drink. These cocktails (and mocktails) duos are delicious proof. 

Yes, each of these drinks uses just two ingredients. You can even pour the liquor (or N/A alternative) directly in the bottle (or can) the mixers come in. Think of them as your new favorite party trick to break out at BBQs, pool parties, and beach outings. Let’s take a look.

1. Rum and Sparkling Yuzu Coconut Water

Credit:, Trader Joe's

This was the cocktail that really got me experimenting in my Mad Scientist Cocktail Laboratory. As you’ll very soon see, there are so many fun mixers out there with plenty of dimensions, and this one from Trader Joe’s is no exception. Trader Joe’s Sparkling Yuzu Coconut Water somehow bottles up the experience of a juice-soda-sparkling-water hybrid in a tiny can.

With a tropical sweetness of coconut mixed with the bright tart zing of yuzu, a splash of aged rum, like Ron del Barrilito Two Star or Ritual Zero Proof’s nonalcoholic rum, will add a bit of vanilla smokiness that makes this feel like a cocktail from a swanky bar. 

2. Tequila and Sparkling Water

Credit: Total Wine, Walmart

Perhaps the most famous OG DIY mix-in-your bottle cocktail, Ranch Water is as easy to drink as it is to make. Sparkling water (some say it can only be Topo Chico, and I agree) + a shot of LALO’s tequila blanco = the most refreshingly light, citrusy dream of a cocktail. It’s way less sweet than a margarita — just add a squeeze of lime! 

3. Gin and Watermelon Water 

Credit: Total Wine, Target

I’m not sure about you, but I try to consume watermelon in whatever form I can get it — and that includes Mela Watermelon Water. The sweet juicy watermelon flavor, to me, feels like such a natural BFF to a more herbaceous, floral gin like Hendricks Original or Mr. Pickles. If you want a cocktail that tastes like it was dragged through a lush, summery garden, this is the drink for you. (Also, hi! Wanna be friends?)

4. Mezcal and Mango Chili Tepache

Credit: Total Wine, Instacart

On a recent trip to Mexico City, I discovered I love two very important Mexican drinks: Mezcal and Tepache. While I love them on their own, they go so much better together. I’m not alone in this adoration, either — you can roll into some mezcalerias and also get a glass of the naturally low-ABV tepache on its own (or mixed with your mezcal of choice).

Tepache, a bubbly, fermented drink made from pineapple rinds and peel, often comes with a dash of chili powder or a splash of other fruit juices. The one I buy most frequently, De La Calle’s Mango Chili Tepache, is spicy, juicy, and sweet, which lends well to the smoky kick of Mezcal Amaras’ Verde Espadin Joven. All you need is a street taco, and I think you’re basically set. 

5. Gentian Liqueur and Blood Orange Sparkling Drink

Credit: Total Wine, Target

I’m not sure when it started, but I just love a slightly bittersweet cocktail (see: Campari spritz, the Negroni, Aperol spritz). My newfound love of Suze, a floral, bitter gentian liqueur often used as an apéritif (think of it as a less intense Campari or Aperol), has opened up a whole other realm of cocktail-making possibilities.

In my apartment, anything can be a spritz if bubbles are involved, so I used the base of my favorite citrusy soda — Sanpellegrino Aranciata Rossa (aka Blood Orange) — as the bubbly portion; it complements beautifully with earthy, floral bittersweet Suze. 

6. Berry Apéritif and Strawberry Basil Sparkling Water

Credit: Ghia, Instacart

I’m a big ol’ raging fan of Aura Bora’s wild flavor combinations, like Pineapple Holy Basil, Blueberry Wildflower, and Green Bean Casserole. They’ve added a punch of dimension to mocktails that other sparkling water brands just do not match. 

If you, too, like the tannic, bitter, floral depth of certain liquors (but don’t necessarily want a buzz), combining an Aura Bora water, especially the Strawberry Basil flavor, with Ghia’s nonalcoholic Berry Apéritif is one of my all-time favorite mocktail combinations ever. It’s actually almost too pretty to keep in your can — let that puppy roam free and pour it over ice and add a lime wedge in your favorite glass. 

7. Port Wine and Cherry Limeade Sparkling Water

Credit: Total Wine, Target

I know this one will upset many people, but stay with me here. Port wine is so much more than just something you drink post-dinner or in the winter near a fire — and it’s about time it got its moment in the (summer) sun! 

I chose to cut this dense, silky-sweet dessert wine (I like Fonseca’s Bin 27)  with Waterloo’s juicier sparkling water, Cherry Limeade, which makes for a fun, lower-ABV red wine spritz that’ll make you feel like you just got back from Porto. If you’re out of sparkling water but have tonic water, don’t sweat it — you can still make this drink

8. Aperol and Lager

Credit: Total Wine, Miller High Life

Another one of those OG mix-in-the-bottle cocktails, Spaghett is the cocktail I’ll likely be enjoying on my stoop all summer long. Mixing Miller High Life and Aperol might seem like a chaotic pairing, but think a bit more logically: Miller High Life is the so-called “champagne of beers,” so isn’t it just an alternative Aperol Spritz at the end of the day? See, it makes sense! 

Don’t believe me? Add enough Aperol to your Miller High Life until you reach a slightly peachy color, sip, and kick yourself for not making this lightly sweet, bubbly, and dare I say, multidimensional cocktail sooner.

9. Bitter Rosso and Tonic Water

Credit: Luxardo, Top Note Tonic

Headlining the next stop on my More Bitter-Sweet Drinks Please Tour is none other than Luxardo’s Bitter Rosso. If this bottle reminds you of bright red Campari, you’re not too far off. Both Campari and Luxardo are bitter orange liqueurs you can use in a spritz, Negroni, or Bicicletta, with the Luxardo being a bit more floral and slightly more tart than Campari. 

Personally, I think it makes for an amazing cocktail with Top Note’s bittersweet yet tart and lime-y tonic water. A couple of these by the pool and you’ll feel like a background actor in the White Lotus.

10. Gin and Pear Elderflower Soda

Credit: Total Wine, United Sodas of America

As is the case with Aura Bora’s sparkling waters, I’m a big fan of all the fun, new sodas from companies like United Sodas of America. There’s honestly so many cool flavors to play around with (next up on my to-mix list: Blackberry Jam and Young Mango). My favorite thus far has been Pear Elderflower. Add a splash of a more botanically forward gin like Citadelle’s Jardin d’Été and you’ve got yourself a garden party in a can.

11. Vodka and Cold Brew Cappuccino

Credit: Instacart

Want an espresso martini but without all the fuss? Simply combine your favorite canned coffee and your espresso-martini liquor of choice (I like to bop around with either rum, tequila, or vodka, though vodka will always scream CLASSIC ESPRESSO MARTINI to me). To avoid sipping on an overly sugary Frappuccino mixture of sorts; I opt for a low-ingredient canned coffee like the ones made by Illy mixed with Belvedere. No three-bean garnish needed.

12. Mezcal and Agua Fresca Limon 

Credit: Total Wine, Instacart

When in doubt if you’re trying to devise can + liquor combos, just mix two things that come from a similar neighborhood. In this case, mixing a refreshingly crisp agua fresca with a smoky, herbal spirit like mezcal is a match made in heaven.

I often find margaritas to be a bit too sweet, so I love the sunshine-y tartness of Bawi’s Agua Fresca Limon cut with a shot of mezcal (I switch off between Dos Hombres and Mezcal Amaras’ Verde Espadin Joven). With a bit of Tajín along the rim, this canned cocktail WILL make waves at your next BBQ (or I’ll eat my shoe).  

Credit: Mackenzie Filson

Before You Mix, a Few Tips

  • Chill your mixers. To keep these as casual as your get-together, and ready to go on the fly, I recommend using cold mixers (You can also drink them over ice, if you so choose). 
  • Sip your mixer before you add alcohol. I always take a few sips of the mixer so there’s enough room to pour the alcohol directly into the can or bottle.
  • Measure to your taste. I measured the liquor with Mississippi’s — as in one Mississippi, two Mississippi; For mixers under 8 ounces), One Mississippi should make for a balanced drink. Anything larger should be measured to your taste.

What two-ingredient cocktails are you mixing up this summer? Tell us about it in the comments below.