Best cocktail recipes to make with pantry staples at home

These are testing times. Pubs, bars and restaurants may be closed until April 12 for outdoor venues (May 17 for full reopening), but taking the time to create a special drink or cocktail at home can still serve as a welcome and cheering distraction.

In lieu of going out,  joy can be found in scheduling drinks with friends on Zoom. Take pleasure in a glass of wine, a Manhattan, or a refreshing G&T. 

But the ritual of making a drink itself – shaking the ice, straining the juice, the clink of glassware – is one that can also bring reassurance in its familiarity. There’s also comfort in the anticipation of drinking good coffee, made just how you like it, to punctuate the tedium of working from home. Diana Henry’s recipe for iced Vietnamese-style coffee with sweetened condensed milk (below) is a deliciously indulgent way to use up a dust-gathering tin of Nestle Carnation. 

Of course, not all ingredients (notably lemons and limes) are as easy to get hold of for the moment, as supermarkets struggle to meet the increased demands of those expecting to be home-bound for prolonged periods of time.

Thankfully, there is a cornucopia of suggestions out there for creating drinks to sip and savour from whatever store-cupboard ingredients, cordials and libations you do have to hand – from tinned pitted cherries and camomile tea bags to maple syrup and marmalade.

Classics include a Bloody Mary or a Virgin Mary, using long-life tomato juice, vodka, spices and trusty Worcestershire sauce, or Kay Plunkett-Hogge’s classic Brandy Cocktail (60ml brandy, a teaspoon of sugar syrup and a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters over ice, stirred and strain into a cocktail glass).

Increased time spent at home also presents an opportunity to make your own kombucha (fermented tea), and experiment with ‘buch cocktails. 

Here are a few other novel ideas…

Cherry and tarragon soda, with optional gin

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