Doubling Down: Two-ingredient Drinks for Every Occasion 

I'm 10 days into a three-week kitchen renovation, and boy, do I need a drink!

The dog's nerves are frayed from all the people coming and going, and my nerves are shot from making sure he doesn't get out the front door while all the people are coming and going. My throat feels constantly parched from the thick dust that's hung in the air after demolition. Life is upside down — I can't find a clean coffee cup, let alone a jigger or my cocktail shaker. And last weekend, my mom came to town for a four-day visit.

We ate all our meals out, enjoying tart gin gimlets at Second Line and pouring our own glasses of "chicken wine" — La Vieille Ferme — straight from the box during a boisterous dinner with friends at Arepas Deliciosas. At the Crosstown Concourse opening, we sipped pinot grigio as we took in the crowds. Then we'd come home, inspect the kitchen progress, and vacuum the living room before sitting down for a few rounds of Rummikub. Inevitably, we'd both want one more glass of something before bed.

Apologies to my mother, but we made do with vodka-tonics, sans even a slice of lime. My fault entirely, but the countertops, kitchen sink, and my knife drawer disappeared a day earlier than I expected. We used our fingers to stir our glasses, mercifully filled with ice from the refrigerator now parked in the middle of my dining room. The dining room table, in case you wondered, is now in the living room, blocking a bookcase. The day she left, the tonic ran out, and I moved on to the exotic bottle of A' Siciliana, or Limonata di Sicilia, which some blessed soul had left in the fridge. It was an outstanding mixer while it lasted.

Now, I've turned to the internet, desperate for easy drinks that require no garnishes, tools, or frills. My go-to, gin and tonic, is out, because I refuse to use bottled lime juice, and I have no idea where my cutting boards are. Because of my mold allergies, I can't drink wine as often as I'd like. To my astonishment, I've found a number of two-ingredient cocktails that fit the bill for a kitchenless house.

click to enlarge OLEG MAGURENCO | DREAMSTIME
  • Oleg Magurenco | Dreamstime

First, there's the Paloma, which is made with equal parts tequila and grapefruit-flavored soda. No need to even measure properly — I just eyeballed my glass as I poured in a few fingers of El Jimador over ice, then topped it with an equal-ish amount of Toronja Jarritos, purchased at the corner store.

Continuing the grapefruit theme, I've also been enjoying an old standby: the Greyhound, or, as I like to call it, "a Salty Dog without the salt." Truthfully, this is best drunk in a rocks glass, but my cocktail glasses are in a box somewhere, so I rinsed out my coffee cup and used it instead. All I needed for a Greyhound was ice, a little vodka, and a lot of grapefruit juice. Inspired by a photograph I saw on the lifestyle website MyDomaine, I even added a sprig of rosemary, pulled off a bush in my front yard.

One night last week, I picked up a can of Coca-Cola (a rarity in this house) so I could enjoy a Kalimotxo, a red wine-based drink I've mentioned here before. It turns out that the secret to a good Kalimotxo, if you're in the midst of a disruptive home project, is to use a bottle of screwtop wine, no particular vintage required.

During a trip to Fresh Market to stock up on deli items, I was inspired to buy a few bottles of ginger beer. Afterward, I enjoyed a run of Dark and Stormies, made with Goslings Black Seal rum, which, truthfully, were not as good as they could've been since they were missing the fresh lime. Once the ginger beer ran out, I turned to rum and Coke.

Mercifully, the end of this insanity is in sight, and by Labor Day, I hope to be unpacking. Soon, I'll be able to have fresh lime wedges anytime I want, and I'll be able to easily put my hands on a highball glass, a shot glass, or any of the bar accoutrements I've come to depend on. My first drink will be accompanied by a toast to the workers who demolished and (hopefully!) rebuilt this hodgepodge kitchen space — and my second will be drunk with a promise to never take such luxuries for granted again.

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