Cocktails From Your Pantry


Turning the simplest ingredients into showstopping cocktails is all-too-easy with Empress 1908 Gin. From improvised mixology tools to tasty items you’ve got hiding your pantry, we’re here to help you turn the ordinary into special and delicious mixing moments! And who knows? You’ll probably whip up something especially creative!

JUMP to the category:

  1. Hack a bar set with mixology tool substitutions
  2. Sweeten up your recipes in a pinch
  3. Pantry items that make fabulous cocktails


Making cocktails starts with the perfect tool set. If you find yourself without your trusty shaker, jigger, and spoon; explore our simple swaps and suggestions in kitchenware you already have on hand!

Our favourite shaker swaps

  • A stainless steel water bottle works well, and keeps your cocktails cold! Something wide would be especially great to ensure proper mixing.
  • A protein shaker bottle! The little metal ball helps incorporate all your ingredients nicely and creates a fluffy foam if the recipe includes egg whites (or aquafaba.)
  • A large mason jar is great in a pinch (but don’t shake too hard!)

Try these mixing glass alternatives

  • A pint glass is accessible and big enough to add lots of ice!
  • A French press has lots of space and a built-in strainer.
  • A glass vase is good as a backup, but be careful when stirring!

Need a jigger in a pinch? Look no further!

  • Shot glasses and espresso cups work great (singles or doubles). Even if the exact amounts aren’t perfect, the ratios should at least be consistent!
  • For measuring spoons, note that 1 oz is equal to 2 tbsp. Here’s a cheatsheet of some more measurement conversions that can help with most conventional cocktail recipes:
    • 1 oz = 2 tbsp
    • ¾ oz = 1½ tbsp or 1 tbsp and 1½ tsp (in case you don’t have a ½ tbsp measurement)
    • ½ oz = 1 tbsp
    • ¼ oz = ½ tbsp or 1½ tsp (in case you don’t have a ½ tbsp measurement)

No barspoon? No problem!

  • A chopstick is long enough to fit in your mixing glass!
  • Metal straws are not only good for sipping, but stirring too!
  • We’re recommending that you go with a long and slender object rather than a conventional spoon since it can feel more awkward to get a consistent stir.

Strainer substitutions you can’t go without!

  • A funnel with a removable filter works perfectly!
  • If stirring, a French press has a built-in strainer!
  • A large sieve is great for fine straining! A smaller tea strainer is also a wonderful alternative.

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Now that you’ve gathered the necessary tools, take a moment to sweeten up your cocktails for maximum enjoyment. Finding the right flavours and ingredients can be tricky for more complicated syrups, though we’ve come to the rescue with our go-to variations!


You can swap out virtually any tea bag to create your own unique syrups all year long! Whether you’ve got loose leaf, sachets, or tea bags, you can easily elevate your simply stunning cocktails. We especially love options like chamomile (especially for our Chamomile Collins) and Earl Grey (like in the Sir Earl by @mrs.barnes on Instagram). If you’ve got tea in your pantry, then why not try out the endless possibilities?

  • 1 cup Sugar 
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1-2 Tea Bags, or 1 oz of your preferred loose-leaf tea
  1. First, add sugar and water to a small saucepan on medium heat and stir to combine. 
  2. Lower the heat and add tea bags or loose-leaf tea.
  3. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the desired flavour is reached.
  4. Cool, remove tea bags/loose-leaf tea, and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks!

Looking for the perfect cocktails to make with this recipe? Try our Chamomile Collins or Sir Earl!



Many classics like the beloved Bee’s Knees call for honey syrup and for good reason! The soothing richness offers delightful dimension (especially when paired with citrus) that takes it a step above conventional simple syrup. Play around with the type of honey you use for different elements of complexity!

We suggest making a honey syrup to thin out the texture since the cold temperatures will likely cause straight honey to firm up too much and not disperse in your cocktail properly. Check out our preferred method below!

  • 1 cup Runny Honey
  • 1 cup Water
  1. First, add honey and water to a small saucepan on medium heat and stir to combine. 
  2. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Cool, and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks!
Agave Nectar

Another natural option, agave nectar is quite similar to honey, but has a more neutral flavour profile that works well in many cocktail recipes! You won’t have to make this into a syrup since the texture isn’t as viscous, but you may want to dial back the amount compared to regular simple since its sweetness is more concentrated.

Maple Syrup

A deep and robust alternative, we love maple syrup for its toffee notes for an extra touch of decadence.

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Using what you already have on hand to make unique and delicious Empress 1908 cocktails has never been so easy! By using simple ingredients such as jam, tea, coconut milk, or even vinegar, you can create fabulous cocktails that will taste incredible and dazzle any sipper.


Ah yes, jam. Strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, raspberry… the list goes on! Jam is a delicious pantry item most people have on hand that can be used to sweeten up cocktails.

Gin & Jam

Looking for a cocktail that’s bound to amaze and you can make in a pinch? Try this brunch delight by @brittsbevs! Recipe serves 2.

  • 4 oz Empress 1908 Indigo Gin
  • 1½ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp Strawberry Jam (or any flavour)
  • Dash of Lemon Zest
  • Lemon Wheel, for garnish

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker or mason jar with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into ice-filled rocks glasses, and garnish with a lemon wheel. Enjoy!

Coconut Milk

Got an extra can of coconut milk in your cupboards? Now is the perfect time to mix up our Starboard Sour! The rich texture and light sweetness is simply heaven when added to a cocktail.

Starboard Sour
  • 1½ oz Empress 1908 Indigo Gin
  • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 oz Vanilla Syrup
  • 1 oz Coconut Milk
  • Lime Leaves or Wheel, for garnish

Shake ingredients vigorously on ice until combined, and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with lime leaves or a lime wheel.

*Whip coconut milk prior to shaking for a creamier texture!


Have a can of chickpeas? Try skipping the egg white and use ¾-1 oz of the strained liquid next time you’re in the mood for a sour! The protein content in aquafaba makes this a worthy alternative, especially if you don’t like the idea of using egg whites.

  • 2 oz Empress 1908 Indigo Gin
  • ¾ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • ¾ oz Simple Syrup
  • ¾ oz Aquafaba
  • Edible Flowers

Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake without ice. Add ice to your shaker and shake again. Fine strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with edible flowers.


Bear with us for a moment! We often add vinegar to our food for acidity. Why not do the same with our cocktails for further complexity? You probably have a container of white vinegar in your pantry you can use, but also experiment with other kinds: red and white wine, champagne, apple cider, balsamic, and rice vinegar. Start off with a small amount (~¼ oz) and go from there!

Looking for a recipe to try this in? Mix up the Leaves of Change for a vibrant seasonal sip!
  • 1½ oz Empress 1908 Indigo Gin
  • 1½ oz Pear Juice
  • ½ oz Maple Syrup
  • ¼ oz Red Wine Vinegar
  • Pear Slices, for garnish

Shake everything but the gin in a cocktail shaker on ice. Strain into a chilled rocks glass and top with crushed ice. Float Empress Indigo Gin on top. Garnish with a fan of pear slices.

Still not entirely convinced? You can also use vinegar to make a shrub – a syrup made by mixing sugar, fruit, and vinegar! We recommend a 1:1:1 ratio of fruit to sugar to vinegar by weight. Check out an example for a strawberry rhubarb shrub below:

Strawberry Rhubarb Shrub
  • 125 g Strawberries, chopped
  • 125 g Rhubarb, chopped
  • 250 g Sugar
  • 250 g White Wine Vinegar

Add chopped fruit and sugar into a container and mix to evenly coat the fruit in sugar. Cover container and let sit for up to 48 hours, agitating to mix sugar as needed. The mixture should become very soft and syrupy. Strain out the liquid and scrape undissolved sugar in the syrup. Add vinegar to syrup and stir until combined. Pour into sealed container and keep stored in the fridge for up to six months. The flavours will mellow out over time.

Use this shrub in the Rose Quartz Sparkler by!
  • 1½ oz Empress 1908 Indigo Gin
  • 2 oz Pineapple Juice
  • ½ oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 oz Strawberry Rhubarb Shrub
  • 2 dashes Cranberry Bitters
  • Ginger Beer
  • Cocktail Cherries, for garnish

In a cocktail shaker add the gin, pineapple juice, lime juice, strawberry rhubarb and cranberry bitters. Cover and shake for 15 – 20 seconds, then strain into a collins glass with ice. Top with ginger beer, and garnish with cocktail cherries.

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Even if you don’t have an extensive bar, you can still make some fantastic drinks with staples you already have in your pantry. This is especially a great opportunity to get creative with your sips at home as you discover combinations you likely would not have thought of before! Let us know if you come up with a particularly yummy cocktail with our tips on Instagram @empress1908gin!

For more cocktail inspiration, check out our InstagramCocktail Page, or Blog!

Sip responsibly!

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