Become Your Own Mixologist With These 3 Easy At-Home Cocktails

Fridge staple sophistication with G&Tea, Pantry Spice Sangria and a Freezer Drawer Shrub

Make the most of what's in your pantry with these three cocktails. Photo / Getty Images

Frankie Walker’s cocktail mantra is “something strong, something weak, something sour, something sweet”. The Black Pineapple founder says it’s possible to create delicious drinks using this formula, along with common household pantry and fridge staples most of us have in our homes.

“Think about making cocktails in terms of parts rather than remembering exact recipes,” says Frankie. “This will ensure consistency of balance and flavour.”

The key to any good cocktail is one part sour (any citrus or vinegar), two parts sweet, three parts strong (any spirit), four parts weak (soda, tonic, tea infusion), and the fifth component is the garnish.

When matching flavours, approach it like cooking, he says. What works together? Consider whisky, ginger, honey, or gin, strawberries, fruit tea; tequila, grapefruit, thyme. Here’s how to build flavour through those categories:


Something Sour
Vinegars, such as white wine, red wine, apple cider

Something Strong
Vodka, gin, rum, whisky, tequila, cognac
Or use wine or sparkling wine and double the volume to 6 parts

Something Weak
Soda water
Tonic water
Herbal tea

Something Sweet
Any type of sugar, such as caster, soft brown, demerara, coconut
Jams, preserves, marmalades
(Dissolve equal parts of the above with equal parts of hot water in a pan, stir to combine, bottle and chill. E.g. 200ml/200g)

Something to Garnish
Cinnamon sticks
Citrus, such as zests, slices


Teas pack huge flavour punches. Make some tea, add some sugar and you’re already halfway to total deliciousness. You can replace the Earl Grey with any black tea, but smoky is best (lapsang, for example, is amazing).

45ml gin
30ml fresh pressed lemon juice
30ml Earl Grey tea syrup (see below)
Soda water

1. Combine all ingredients in a glass except for the soda water, stir well.

2. Completely fill glass with ice and top with soda water.

3. Finish with lemon wheel, rubbed around the rim then placed in the drink.

Tea Syrup

Make a strong batch of Earl Grey tea, either bagged or loose. Keep checking and remove tea when the flavour is at its peak. Add equal parts caster sugar to ml of liquid — 500ml = 500g. Stir until sugar has completely dissolved. Bottle and chill (its shelf life is 2 weeks).


Down beneath the frozen peas and that lamb casserole from last lockdown, you’re sure to find frozen berries of some description. Liberate them immediately in the name of libation! A shrub is an ancient formulation combining acidity from vinegar with the sweetness of fruit to create perfectly balanced, lip-smacking cocktails.

30ml berry syrup (see method)
30ml white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
45ml spirit of any kind
Top with soda

1. For the berry syrup, take berries out of the freezer half an hour before whizzing. Blend 2 parts frozen berries with 1 part caster sugar by weight (e.g. 500g berries, 250g sugar). Strain using a tea strainer or sieve and bottle.

2. Add vinegar and berry syrup to a glass and stir well to combine.

3. Add spirit and stir again.

4. Fill glass completely with ice.

5. Top with soda.

6. Garnish with berries and fresh mint or basil.


Grab the spice rack and let’s have a look at what we have to transform that dusty old bottle of red.

Chopping board and knife
New or unused dishcloth and some string

1 bottle of any juicy red wine (no need to waste the good stuff)
Spices can be whatever you have, but we’ve used a combination of:

Dried chillies
Star anise
Citrus (try lemons, oranges, limes or grapefruit)

1. Lay a dishcloth out on the kitchen bench.

2. Add whatever winter spices your heart desires to the middle of the cloth.

3. Add a large dessert spoon of any sugar, preferably brown.

4. Zest 2 citrus using a sharp paring knife if you’ve got one (you want the zests not the bitter white piths — use a grater/microplane if easier).

5. Grab the corners of the cloth and pull them together to make a parcel.

6. Tie a shoelace knot with string, ensuring all ingredients are tucked nicely inside. This is now your flavour explosion spiced tea bag!

7. Add wine to the pan, plus the juice of 2 citrus, stirring. Drop in spice bomb.

8. Heat gently — do not boil and keep checking back until the flavour reaches a depth and intensity that makes you happy. Once achieved, remove the spice bomb.

9. Either serve warm straight away or bottle and chill. If chilled, serve over lots of ice in the biggest wine glass you own with a splash of soda.

10. Garnish with any of the ingredients, such as lemon zest, cinnamon quill, star anise.

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New Zealand Herald

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