If you take one thing away from this article make it this: you don’t need a shelf of hard liquor to make great cocktails.
In fact, you don’t even need great wine.
Now, we’d all love to pretend that our wine collections are wall-to-wall top-shelf, expertly chosen and impressive bottles. But this is real life.
That $10 bottle gathering dust? You can pretend that one of your less ‘cultured’ pals bought it for dinner and it sat on the wine rack ever since. Or that you just picked it up for some cooking. Or your 18 year old cousin thought that super sweet wine with ‘extra marshmallow’ tasting notes was a good gift.
Maybe you don’t even like wine and someone just left this at your house.
You don’t need to justify your choices to us! We’re all friends here. Love is love - in life and in wine.
Option 1 - The simple spritz
So grab that ‘bad’ wine. We’re going to dress it up.
Unless your wine is corked - or has turned to vinegar in the bottle - almost any wine can be saved with a load of ice, fruity garnish, and solid dose of soda water.
That’s right, we’re making spritzers!
Yes, this is about as cool as suggesting we all drink shandys at the local (on that note, bring back the shandy - it’s a delicious and underrated match for the Australian summer).
A good ratio is three quarters wine, topped with something bubbly. Soda water suggested, flavoured soft drink not so much.
If it’s a very sweet wine, add a dash or two of bitters. Fancy.
Option 2 - Add rum
But I’ve got a bottle of red...what do I do?
Fact - rum makes red wine better. The little known but very good Bishop Cocktail is a godsend for those of us who opened a bottle of red to find it wasn’t quite what we were expecting.
The trick is in the ratios.
If you’re making individual drinks, go all in on the rum and use the wine as a surprise note. If you’re preparing bulk for a crowd, your wine should outweigh your rum.
Either way, you’re looking for a 3:1 ratio.
For a single glass that would be 3 ounces rum to 1 ounce wine. For a punch, a bottle of wine to about 3 ounces rum.
Finish it off with citrus and sugar. Variations of the recipe call for lime, lemon or orange. Make your choice based on preference and what’s on hand. For a single serve, you want to add about a tablespoon of juice. As for sugar, a single glass will be lifted by a teaspoon of simple syrup. In a punch you can mix in about 4 barspoons of sugar.
If you’re going really indulgent, try spiced rum, orange and a heavy red, warmed up and served in a mug - a shortcut to mulled wine.
Option 3 - Sangria (of course)
There are a tonne of sangria recipes out there that can suit pretty much any occasion or style of wine.
We’ve even seen some recipes finished off with Red Bull (and DO NOT recommend).
Remember, these guys are best left to sit for a while before drinking. The idea is to let the fruit flavours really mix together.
Go for the classic mix of a bottle of red wine and the juice and thick chunks of rind from 2 oranges and 1 lemon. Garnish with chunks of green apple, peaches, apricots and cinnamon stick. Let sit for a few hours (or overnight) and top with some soda water before you serve to lighten it up.
Otherwise, peach sangria is a fun variation for warmer weather. Mix a bottle of Pinot Grigio, with a cup each of white rum and peach schnapps, squeeze in some fresh lemon and orange juice and garnish with fresh (or tinned for a classic punch vibe) peach slices.
Ready to stock your shelves for your next cocktail making experiment? While these recipes don’t need too many fancy ingredients, why not drop into one of our stores and ask our team for their favourite bar staples? That way, you’ll always be ready to impress!