Cocktails in a Pinch

Lizie Cross


Ah the festive season. Tis the season to be jolly, to drink and eat and be merry with your nearest and dearest. But after the happy celebrations are over, you return home to find a near empty pantry and a fridge containing nothing but suspicious condiments and a sad looking carrot. As you stare at the lonely carrot, you start to regret those invites you extended to friends for homemade cocktails at your place. Your mind wanders. You google ‘carrot cocktails’. You’re desperate. Have no fear, for a cocktail is always near. Here are four cocktail recipes that every cocktail enthusiast can make at a pinch with a few basic pantry staples and some leftover holiday booze (if there is any…)


Spice Up Your Life Sangria

Some wise women once said ‘If you want to be my lover, you’ve got to get with my friends’. Well you’re not gonna be able to get with your lover’s friends without the perfect cocktail recipe to win them over.

1. Start by rummaging around your kitchen to find any forgotten red wine. Look behind doors and couches for bygone bottles from your last party. Pour in a jug with some lemonade, and ginger ale if you have any lying about.

2. Now scavenge that pantry to find some cinnamon, and throw in a couple teaspoons along with a few spoonfuls of sugar to help the medicine go down.

3. If you have any almost-empty bottles of spirits lying around (also from your last party) — vodka, tequila, Bacardi — throw in a few shots, just to get the party started.

4. Now’s the time for those frozen berries, crystallised to rocks of indigo at the back of the freezer, to shine. Get ‘em out and chop ‘em up into ice cube-sized chunks and throw them in the jug with the rest of the gang.

5. Give the whole thing a good stir and voila! Your friends will think they’ve been transported to the streets of Barcelona, albeit the cheaper, dodgier backstreets.


Cachy’s (pronounced cha-chees)

For those with a few more ingredients at hand, or willing to make a quick trip to Coles, the tropical call of the Cachy may be for you.

1. Start with a short glass with a few ice cubes, Don Draper style.

2. Add a shot of tequila, or two, depending on the severity of emotional trauma the day has delivered.

3. Add the juice of half a lime, some torn mint leaves, and the tears of Jon Hamm, then fill with lemon squash.

4. Give it a stir with your pinky to really get into character, then take a swig and let the Cachy dissolve your worries, at least until morning.


Ice Tea Desperado

When a trip to Coles isn’t an option, and all you have at your disposal is your pantry and hopes to one day pull off a pixie cut as good as Emma Watson, this cocktail may just be your salvation. But be warned, it isn’t for the faint hearted.

1. Begin by retrieving any sweet herbal tea bags in your possession, the ones with whimsical names like ‘berry-licious dream’ and ‘blackberry indulgence’. Brew up a nice strong cup with two bags to each cup, then let it sit and cool.

2. Add a touch of sugar, teabags still in, and leave in the fridge to steep.

3. When cool, get yourself a tall glass with some ice cubes, and pour in a shot (and then some), of your poison of choice. Bonus points if you have a fancy liqueur lying around to add a swig, before topping up with your cold tea mix. Best served when your guests’ drinking expectations are low, but one step up from ethanol.


Frozen Strawberry Margaritas

This one may require a bit more preparation and a few theatrics, but it’s bound to impress your guests and convince them you’re the next Nigella Lawson. You’ll need a blender, some cocktail glasses, an oozy, honeyed voice, and overly sexual descriptions of your cooking methods.

1. Take your blender, and add: one packet of frozen strawberries, half a cup of tequila (yes, half a cup), a good swig of Cointreau, the juice of half a lime and a splash of lemonade.

2. Whiz it all up until it’s a silky smooth pink mix, swirling around with gusto.

3. Spoon the mixture into your cocktail glasses and hand to your guests proudly, calling them all ‘darling’ to really seal the Nigella illusion.

4. You can warn your guests of your potion’s potency, or tell them its mainly vitamin C with a little kick and watch them all begin to bust out the dance moves. By far the best concoction for instant party buzz. A total crowd pleaser.


If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol related issues, please consider speaking to your local GP, a healthcare professional, or calling one of the confidential services below. 

Lifeline — 131114

DrugInfo — 1300 858 584

Alcohol Drug Information Services New South Wales — 02 9361 8000 (Sydney) or 1800 422 599 (NSW regional and rural)


Cover image: Marissa Vafakos