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Reds spills its secrets for the best at-home cocktails

Apr 16, 2020  ·  4 min read

To say life looks different these days is an understatement. Spending more time at home, means more time to try new things. At QT Queenstown, we’ve also got a little extra time on our hands, and we wanted to bring a little drop of QT to you. Our talented Reds Bar team want to share their home cocktail concoctions while you’re waiting for your favourite watering holes to reopen.

No need for obscure liqueurs and spirits – we’re revealing how you can make your own ingredients that will elevate any cocktail. By the end of isolation, you’ll have a full stock of new cocktail ingredients to impress at your long-awaited post-lockdown dinner party.

Our Director of Food & Beverage, Gethin Curtis, is sharing his recipes for syrups and infusions, the easiest cocktail techniques that will give you maximum wow-factor.

Reds at-home cocktail secrets


Syrups are easy-to-make and used to ‘season’ drinks – just like you’d add salt or pepper to a food dish.

The basic recipe involves only two ingredients – 500g of sugar plus 500g of water. Bring the water to a boil, then add the sugar and whisk until it’s dissolved. This is your blank canvas for any flavour you want to add. After you add the flavour, simmer for one minute, remove from the heat and let it steep for another 30 minutes.

The possibilities are endless, but here are my favourite syrup flavours to inspire your at-home cocktails:

  • Chilli Syrup – Just add four or five fresh chillies to the simple syrup recipe. This is a natural partner with tequila or smoky mescal, but also works wonderfully with citrus, chocolate, cucumber or watermelon.
  • Strawberry Syrup – Drop in one bag of frozen strawberries, blended with a touch of water first. When the syrup has cooled down, fine strain with cheese cloth and store in the fridge. Add this to your favourite gin or vodka, throwing in some ice and topping with soda.
  • Thyme Syrup – Adding four or five sprigs of thyme captures the wonderful flavour of this fresh herb. The thyme syrup works well with most white spirits, as well as bourbon. I especially enjoy it paired with grapefruit.

Reds at-home cocktail secrets


Infusing liquor is a great way to add variety to your at-home cocktail game, building your bar by taking advantage of what you already have on the shelf. Vodka infusions are by far the easiest to create as the base spirit has little flavour – but if you’re feeling up to it, any spirit is possible.

Choose a clean, air-tight jar. I recommend starting with smaller jars to divide your liquor so you can experiment with a few infusions at one time. Wash the ingredients, cut to size, place inside the jar and fill with liquor. Seal tightly with a lid and give the jar a few shakes.

Intense flavours like hot peppers take as little as one hour to infuse, while others will test your patience. Wait 3 to 4 days for basil, cinnamon, vanilla bean and citrus. Moderate flavours like fruits, lavender or rosemary take about one week; and mild flavours like ginger and lemongrass will be ready for your concocting pleasure in two weeks.

  • Sour Skittle Vodka – Try to use a single colour Skittle to avoid an unappetising orange-brown result. Mix your infused vodka with a simple syrup and some citrus, and you are half way to a 90’s throwback. Just cue up the RnB.
  • Lemongrass Vermouth – This is one that we use in Reds Bar as a key ingredient in our South East Asian Mojito. Just give the lemongrass stalk a bit of a bash first to release the oils, then leave in the vermouth for about a week.
  • Pink Peppercorn Gin – It’s best to use a gin with a heavier juniper profile, and add about four tablespoons of peppercorns. Shake it with some strawberry syrup, a little citrus and your favourite Rosé wine.

We challenge you to give these at-home cocktail adventures in syrups and infusions a go. Next time you’re at Reds, we want to hear all about your concoctions – we hope it’s not long now before we can mix something up for you again. See you soon!

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