Alternative ingredients classic cocktails

Mix It Up: Alternative Ingredients for Classic Cocktails

Ever gone to make your favourite cocktail, only to discover you’re missing a key component? Yeah, us too, and it’s annoying. But, the good news is that all is not lost—you can still whip up something tasty by thinking outside of the box—or glass—a little bit.

Here, we’ve got you covered with some alternative ingredients to help you mix things up while still creating the contemporary and classic cocktails you know and love.

Bloody Mary

A Bloody Mary is a great choice for brunch, lunch, or whenever you fancy something  zesty that packs a punch. Traditionally it’s made with a couple of dashes of Worcester Sauce, but if you’re without Worcester, an easy switch is to use Soy Sauce. The flavour profile isn’t quite the same but it’ll provide your Bloody Mary with the similar umami taste you get from Worcester Sauce. You can also add a sprinkle of sugar to add balance to the salt.


45 ml Vodka
90 ml tomato juice
15 ml fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Soy Sauce in place of Worcester Sauce
Tabasco, Celery Salt, Pepper (up to taste)


Stir gently all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice
Pour into a rocks glass
Garnish with celery, lemon wedge (Optional)

Note: If requested served with ice, pour into a highball glass.

Old Fashioned

Old-Fashioned cocktail

Stirred, never shaken, an Old Fashioned is a classic whiskey cocktail that typically uses just four ingredients including whiskey (bourbon or rye), sugar syrup, Angostura bitters and water. But, if you’re missing the bitters then alternatives are available.

First up, you could use another liqueur in place of the Angostura. Campari, Absinthe or Amaro are all suitable alternatives, and you can use them in the same ratio as your bitters (a few dashes—but use sparingly).

Or, if you’re all out of herbal aperitifs too, then you could make your own version of bitters (albeit alcohol-free) by muddling fruit, such as orange, to bring that classic flavor with simple syrup, then shaking and finally mixing it into your drink.

Cointreau could also be used in place of your bitters, but it won’t have the same amaro taste and is higher in ABV so you’ll only need a tiny dash if using.


45 ml Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
1 sugar cube
Few dashes Liqueur (or alternatively add your homemade muddled fruit blend)
Few dashes plain water


Place your sugar cube in old fashioned glass and saturate with your Bitter alternative
Add a few dashes of plain water
Muddle until dissolved
Fill the glass with ice cubes and add Whiskey
Stir gently
Garnish with an orange slice or zest, and a cocktail cherry

Also interesting: 30 Best Whiskey Cocktails & Drinks40 Bourbon Cocktails to Master


Shaking up a classic Margarita only to find you’re out of Triple Sec? Fear not—there’s actually a few ways you can still give this refreshing Mexican cocktail its signature flavour if you’re missing the mixer.

Other orange-based liqueurs are your friend here. Cointreau is probably your best option, but mind the ABV—it’s 40%, whereas Triple Sec tends to be around half the strength. So, if you’re subbing Triple Sec for Cointreau, only use 10 ml per cocktail.

For a slightly different take, you could use St-Germain which is an elderflower liqueur hailing from France. It’s a similar strength to Triple Sec so can be directly swapped, but it’s a little sweeter, so you may want to use less, or add a little more lime juice for balance.

Or, you could use Aperol in place of Triple Sec. While it offers a slightly more bitter flavour profile (and an orange hue), it can work well in a Margarita and comes in at only 11%, so is a good substitute without making the cocktail too boozy.


50 ml Tequila 100% Agave
10 ml Cointreau or 20 ml Aperol
15 ml freshly-squeezed lime juice (add more to taste if required)


Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a half salt rim (optional)

Also interesting: 50 Best Tequila Cocktails – Classic Recipes


A British-born countryside-inspired cocktail, the Bramble is a delicious mix of gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and Crème de Mûre and is perfect for sipping on spring days. But, if you’re all out of blackberry liqueur, all is not lost.

Firstly, if you have any other black fruit liqueurs, such as Creme de Cassis, then these will work well and are usually a similar strength. A raspberry liqueur like Chambord is another option and again, can be swapped like for like.

Or, if you fancy bringing the booze down a bit but giving your cocktail a real picnic vibe, then why not try jam? It’ll be a bit sweeter and thicker so you might want to forego your sugar syrup or up the amount of lemon juice depending on your preferences. Scones and cream aren’t required, but would probably taste quite nice on the side.


50 ml Gin
25 ml fresh lemon juice
12.5 ml sugar syrup (reduce to taste if using jam)
15 ml black or red fruit liqueur, or 1 tsp jam
Garnish optionally with a lemon slice and blackberries.


Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker except the Liqueur
Shake well with ice
Strain into chilled Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed ice
Pour your liqueur (or jam!) over the top of the drink, in a circular motion

Also interesting: List of the 25 Best Gin cocktails & drinks recipes


A classic Martinez combines gin, sweet red Vermouth, Maraschino Liqueur and Bitters. It’s made up of equal parts Gin and Vermouth, so if you’re lacking the latter, you’ll need a pretty good alternative in place.

Red wine, mixed with a bit of sugar syrup will do the trick, and doesn’t require much maths—you can just use the same amount of wine as you would with Vermouth. (The sugar syrup is just for taste so add as much or as little as you like.)

Other fortified wines such as a Dry Sherry can also be used—it’ll bring a slight variation on flavour, but again, the same amount can be used in place of the Vermouth.

Or, if you’re all out of wines both regular and fortified, but happen to have some red wine vinegar around, then you could also try making the cocktail with this in place of your Vermouth. Obviously being a vinegar, it’s going to be a bit tangier than your fortified wine, so you’ll want to use around half of the amount you would with Vermouth, then dilute with water.


45 ml London Dry Gin
45 ml Red Wine or Sherry, or 25 ml Red Wine Vinegar, mixed with around 20 ml water to dilute
1 Bar Spoon Maraschino Liqueur
2 dashes Orange Bitters


Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes
Stir well
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with lemon zest

Also interesting: 28 Best Vermouth Cocktails (Dry and Sweet Recipes)



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