Divine quarantinis you can mix up from the dregs of your drinks cabinet

Award-winning mixologist Julian Short conjures up recipes for lockdown cocktails that can be made from pretty much any booze you have on hand

21 May 2020 - 09:11
By Hilary Biller
Julian Short, head mixologist and part owner of Sin + Tax.
Image: Alon Skuy Julian Short, head mixologist and part owner of Sin + Tax.

Quarantini: such a playful word and a recent addition to the global lexicon.

It technically refers to any alcoholic drink enjoyed during quarantine, which is what they (incorrectly) call lockdown in some parts of the world. However, thanks to the current booze ban, a more fitting local definition would be a cocktail whipped up from the dregs of your drinks cabinet in desperate times.

Whether it's that questionable bottle of creamy liquor someone gave you as a gift, or the sherry you've only ever used to make Christmas trifles, most of us have random bottles of alcohol that — until recently — were gathering cobwebs.

To help you conjure up a delicious drink out of them, we asked award-winning mixologist Julian Short to come up with some versatile cocktail recipes that can be made with pretty much any booze you have on hand.

“I love the idea of a quarantini because people can unleash their creativity,” says Short, who is part owner of Sin + Tax in Joburg, which was voted the 88th best bar in the world last year. “We’ve come from a rigid and planned lifestyle to one of unpredictability where it’s fun being creative and feeds the soul.”


“I love making spritz-style cocktails. They are light, refreshing and fun,” says Short. “For the base of this drink you’re welcome to use any kind of vermouth, sherry or liqueur. Think Pimms, Cointreau, Aperol, Campari or whatever you have on hand.”

Makes: 1


40ml Grappa or sherry

40ml cloudy apple or orange juice 

20ml honey water (made by dissolving 5ml of honey in 15ml warm water)

Tonic or kombucha, to top up 

2 dashes Angostura bitters 


Lemon wedge

Fresh mint


Mix the alcohol, fruit juice and honey water. Pour into a wine glass. Top up with tonic or kombucha, add some bitters for complexity, garnish with a lemon wedge — give it a nice squeeze as you drop it into the glass  — and some fresh mint.


Says Short, “This drink is a neat and fun take on the classic sours cocktail. As long as you can balance the sweetness and sourness of your cocktail using honey and lemon, then you’re free to experiment with pretty much any weird and wonderful spirit or liqueur you find at the back of your booze cabinet.”

Makes: 1


25ml honey water (made by dissolving 10ml honey in 15ml warm water)

25ml lemon juice

15ml Schnapps 

40ml Sambuca or Ouzo



Rosemary sprig 


Mix the honey water, lemon juice and alcohol together in a cocktail shaker or, if you don't have one on hand, in a sealable plastic container. Add ice and shake hard for 15 seconds. Carefully strain the cocktail into a tumbler filled with ice cubes, garnish and enjoy.

A classic Old Fashioned is made with bourbon.
Image: 123RF/Brent Hofacker A classic Old Fashioned is made with bourbon.


“This drink is a spin on the classic cocktail, The Old Fashioned,” explains Short. “Traditionally it's a blend of bourbon, sugar and bitters, but you can use any dark spirit — or white spirit, if you're brave enough — that you have on hand.”



50ml brandy or any spirit as described above 

20ml honey water (made by dissolving 5ml of honey in 15ml warm water)

3 dashes Angostura bitters 



Orange zest


Pour the alcohol, honey water and bitters into a whisky tumbler and using a spoon, stir until well mixed together. Add ice and garnish with orange zest.


“This easy cocktail can be made using those creamy liquors you have lurking around,” says Short.

Makes: 1


20ml lime juice 

100ml coconut water 

15ml honey 

50ml cream liqueur 

3 dash bitters 

Pinch of salt

A handful of ice


Fresh fruit or aromatic herbs


Blend all the ingredients until smooth, pour into a tall tumbler, garnish and serve.