If shaking up a cocktail intimidates you and you’ve resigned yourself to pouring a glass of wine or cracking open a can of beer, you’re not alone, and it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s actually a golden ratio that will help you master every adult beverage. Dominic Alling, mixologist and national brand ambassador for Cointreau, helped break it down for us, since *side fact* this year marks the 70th anniversary of The Original Margarita, created by Dallas socialite Margarita Sames, who drank a blend of Cointreau, lime, and tequila.

the golden ratio of cocktails

“The key to any good cocktail is achieving a balance of flavors,” says Alling. “No matter what the beverage, it’s hard to ‘mess it up’ as long as you remember that.” The golden ratio of two-one-one, which breaks down to two parts alcohol, one part sweet, and one part sour, achieves just that. So for the perfect Original Margarita, mix together two parts (or ounces) of tequila (the alcohol), one part (or ounce) of Cointreau (the sweet), and one part (ounce) of fresh lime juice (the sour).

the golden ratio of punches

If you’re making punch, there’s another golden ratio to follow. “My tip for making good punch [is] one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, and four of weak,” says Alling. That seems easy enough, especially since it rhymes!

In this case, the sour refers to citrus like a lemon or lime juice. The sweet can be juices like orange or cranberry or a sweet liqueur like orange Cointreau, raspberry Chambord, or elderflower St-Germain.

The “three of strong” refers to liquor like tequila, gin, vodka, rum (Alling prefers Mount Gay Black Barrel), or bourbon. The “four of weak” dilutes the punch so it becomes more drinkable. This could be your classic club soda or, if you’re like Alling, you might take it up a notch. “I like to make a big batch of fresh ginger tea and add a little water… of course, finish the drink with Angostura bitters and an orange, lemon, or lime wheel for garnish,” he tells us.

don’t forget to do this every time

With all cocktails, you should always taste-test. If your drink is too strong, dilute it with a mixer or water. If it’s too tart, add more of something sweet. If it’s too sweet, squeeze in more citrus.

Have you tried the golden ratio or have any other cocktail tips? Share over @BritandCo.

(Illustrations via Rebecca Fong/ Brit + Co)