When grape meets grain: three wine-based cocktails

New York Sour.
New York Sour. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Wine-based cocktails are a bit of a rarity, with the exception of fortified wines such as vermouth, port and sherry. But regular wines can be used to great effect, too, adding all the complexity and power of natural fermentation. Most wines are a bit delicate to throw big flavours at willy-nilly, so we have chosen a couple of heavy hitters and fun techniques to get the best out of these three wine-based cocktails.

God of Wine

Natural wines can be a little confronting, and some are just downright weird. But the level of complexity and intensity of flavour is outstanding, and with a little sweetness to balance out the acid and funk, you can have a ball bringing the humble spritz to bear on modern winemaking. This version plays with the melon and fruit characteristics of Dirty Black Denim's natural sauvignon blanc/chardonnay blend from Heathcote with the addition of lemon, apricot and cucumber.


God of Wine.
God of Wine. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

100ml natural white/orange wine

15ml limoncello*

10ml apricot brandy**

soda water

cucumber to garnish



Add the wine, limoncello and apricot brandy to a wine glass. Fill the glass with ice, and top with soda water. Stir, then garnish with a long slice of cucumber.

*We used the limited edition from Applewood distillery, but any will work, or try making your own.

**If you don't already have a bottle of apricot brandy, grab one. It's an essential ingredient for any home bar. Joseph Catron is a great brand.

New York Sour. For story on wine-based cocktails with recipes by Fred Siggins.

New York Sour. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

New York Sour

One of the only classic cocktails to make use of unfortified wine, the New York Sour brings extra complexity from fruit and tannin to a regular whisky sour with the addition of red wine. The drink was originally invented in Chicago in the 1870s, where bartenders were adding a "claret snap", meaning a float of red wine, to their whisky sours. This recipe uses more sugar than a regular sour might to balance out the acidity in the wine.


50ml rye whisky

25ml lemon juice

25ml sugar syrup

20ml fresh egg white

15ml dry red wine such as shiraz or malbec


Add all ingredients except the wine to a cocktail shaker without ice, then close the shaker and shake hard, taking care it doesn't pop open. Open the shaker, fill with ice and shake the drink again* until it's nice and cold. Fine strain into a large rocks glass and add fresh ice.

Carefully pour the red wine down the stem**  of an upside-down bar spoon, with the end of the spoon sitting just in between the liquid part of the drink and the foam on top. This will cause the wine to float above the rest of the drink making a lovely band of red.

*This is called a "dry shake" and will help the eggwhite emulsify to a lovely fluffy head.

** This is the reason most professional bar spoons have a twisted stem, and a flat piece of metal at the end. The twist directs liquid straight down the spoon, and the flat bit distributes it horizontally across the drink.

Fitzroy Froze.

Fitzroy Froze. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Fitzroy Frozé

Just saying the word "frozé" makes us cocktail nerds want to wash our mouths out with organic, Fairtrade, single-origin whisky. But we're here to have fun, so we'll put our pretensions away and show you how to make a kick-ass grown-up slushy to take your pink drinks to the next level. This version uses strawberries, coconut water (because #cleanliving) and salt to keep you hydrated for long sessions of daylight savings slurping*.


1 bottle dry rosé

1 punnet fresh strawberries

100ml sugar syrup

30ml fresh lemon juice

250ml coconut water

½ tsp salt

mint to garnish


In a large jug, mix the rosé, sugar syrup and coconut water. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays or takeaway containers and freeze overnight. Add the frozen rosé mix cubes with the remaining ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses of your choice and garnish with fresh mint.

*This is not really a thing. Booze will dehydrate you no matter what, but salt is delicious.

Serves 6