Golden Ratio: 2:1:1 Cocktail Balance

Golden Ratio: 2:1:1 Cocktail Balance | 3 Minute Cocktail Education

Today let’s talk about the golden ratio: 2:1:1 and cocktail balance. This is breaks a recipe into “parts”, with a ratio of 2 parts for your core spirit, 1 part for your sweet and 1 part for your sour.

The golden ratio is a well established cocktail recipe configuration to bring balance to your drink designs. Cocktail balance is super important for most drinkers but there are plenty of cocktails that can break the magical concept, such as the PiƱa Colada — which is all sweet and no sour.

Why is Cocktail Balance Important?

The balance of sugar and sour allows your spirit to shine as the two slightly neutralize each other. They bring the fullness of a cocktail without being super sour or overly sweet. The end result is… you can taste the drink the way it was intended with the expensive ingredient taking center stage (that being your spirit).

In our example, let’s look at a classic 2:1:1 Margarita:


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2 oz Blanco Tequila

1 oz Agave Nectar

1 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

In this case what you may find is that the margarita is a hit for some and a bit too sweet for others. This is due to the use of agave nectar, which breaks the 2:1:1 rule slightly because it’s not simple syrup (and not all “sweets” are considered equal). In this case, agave nectar is about 1.5x sweeter than simple syrup.

So, it’s probably better to balance the cocktail with less agave nectar and doing a 2:1:1/2 or 2:1:3/4 using only 1/2 – 3/4 agave nectar. The simple solution? Use simple syrup instead!

What makes it the golden ratio?

A little bartender secret, they don’t have to memorize every single recipe, they only have to memorize the hard ones. You can guess your way to victory with 2:1:1. A few example cocktails that follow the rule include: Daiquiri, Gimlet, Whiskey Sour, Mojito, South Side, and French 75.

You’ll find the Mai Tai also fits in (but we’ll make a separate video about how that happens and how you can split the “1” part into 1/2 sweet of one type and 1/2 sweet of another).

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