how to transform 'cheap booze' into something «special»how to transform 'cheap booze' into something «special»how to transform 'cheap booze' into something «special»how to transform 'cheap booze' into something «special»how to transform 'cheap booze' into something «special»how to transform 'cheap booze' into something «special»how to transform 'cheap booze' into something «special»how to transform 'cheap booze' into something «special»how to transform 'cheap booze' into something «special»

*hi ! ... begin by watching the 30 second video-clip (after the 7 photos) and then i'll expalin everything ... :)

I go to this rather fancy and British up-scale supermarket for certain cooking ingredients every 2-3 weeks, to get stuff I can’t find in the Parisian supermarkets (cottage cheese, cheddar, stilton, etc.). I noticed that they sold store-brand inexpensive liquors for 10€ per 700 ml bottle which are perfect for cooking with :  COGNAC, GIN, VODKA & WHISKY . . . I considered these liquors to be more like cooking ingredients and not necessarily to be consumed as actual drinks … UNTIL NOW !

*… but the store-brand liquor isn’t that ‘BAAAAAD’ actually; it’s  relatively pure and on't give you a headache, simple, uncomplex & uncomplicated, just lacking in ‘depth’  and that's to be expected.

What are the INGREDIENTS that almost everybody has at home ?

BLACK TEA or black tea with bergamot citrus which is called EARL GREY.

GREEN TEA or maybe green tea with JASMIN blossoms (for a floral touch).

CHAÏ MASALA SPICE MIX (cinnamon, star anis, cloves, cardamom, allspice, pepper, ginger, etc.) as is or often added to black or green tea leaves.

HERBAL & FLORAL TEAS (too many varieties to list here).

COFFEE BEANS and sometimes COCOA NIBS (crushed cocoa beans) too.

These are the usual things that we prepare and drink every morning and later on in the day too (before COCKTAIL / HAPPY HOUR arrives) …

Why not use these stimulating and uplifting everyday concoctions (usually combined with hot water) as dry ingredients to flavor what I like to call “CHEAP BOOZE” ?! But not in finely ground or powder form but coarsely crushed or in whole leaf form (otherwise you’ll spend the day straining & filtering the cloudier results).

Here are my suggestions but you can prepare any mixture combination you like :

COFFEE & COCOA are great with vodka, whisky and cognac.

CHAI MASALA SPICES also work well with those previous three.

BLACK TREA & EARL GREY work well with cognac and whisky.

GREEN TEA (with or without added florals) gets along well with GIN and sometimes VODKA too.

*other extra additions are of course possible like vanilla beans, hot peppers, etc …

The only thing to keep a close eye on is the BITTERNESS that can appear especially with TEA LEAVES because the longer they macerate the more bitter they become (unless you decide to rapidly soak them a first time in alcohol and throw away the first alcohol maceration, but that’s really wasteful). An addition of something sweet like liquid honey could help counteract this ‘tea leaf bitterness’, after you’ve done a final taste-test and before bottling.

I’ve adjusted the amounts of added tea leaves, chai spices and coffee and cocoa to the 4 types of “cheap booze” I had, so you could make all 4 on the same day and strain & filter everything on the same day too (I mean 3-4 days later) … that’s up to you !

BOTTOMS UP ! (like they say) but better to take your time because it’s home-made after all and like the new liquor & spirits comany slogans say nowadays :

“ENJOY RESPONSIBLY” (it’s so caring that it makes me laugh) … :)

how to transform 'cheap booze' into something «special»


330 ml each


chai cognac :

  • 350 ml (almost 1½ cups or half of the bottle) cheap cognac (french brandy)
  • 20-25 grams (4-5 tbsp) coarsely crushed ‘chai masala’ spices (use a non-powdered mix of coarsely crushed cinnamon, dried ginger, star anis, allspice, cardamom, cloves, pink peppercorns)

green tea gin :

  • 350 ml ((almost 1½ cups or half of the bottle) cheap gin
  • 15-20 grams (3-4 tbsp) green tea leaves (or replace 1 tbsp regular green tea with 1 tbsp green tea & jasmin mix or other sweeter dried flowers like dried orange blossoms)
  • optional : add approximately 15 grams (1 tbsp) honey (after the final tasting if too bitter)

black tea whisky :

  • 350 ml (almost 1½ cups or half of the bottle) cheap whisky
  • 10-15 grams (2-3 tbsp) black tea leaves (or replace 1 tbsp black tea with 1 tbsp earl grey which contains bergamot citrus)
  • optional : add approximately 15 grams (1 tbsp) honey (after the final tasting if too bitter)

coffee cocoa vodka :

  • 350 ml (almost 1½ cups or half of the bottle) cheap vodka
  • 20-25 grams (4-5 tbsp) crushed coffee beans and cocoa nibs (half & half or two-thirds & one-third)


  • use 4 medium mason jars (or other sealable jars) and fill each with 1½ cups of liquor (if you plan to prepare all 4 blends)
  • add the appropriate aromatic mix (dried tea leaves, dried flowers, crushed spices, crushed coffee beans, cocoa nibs) to each type of liquor
  • stir and shake, close the jars and let infuse/macerate at room temperature for 2-3 days each and shake the jars once per day (see note below) and taste on day 3

note : different mixes require different maceration times which is why I’ve adjusted the amount of added black/green tea leaves and/or dried spices and/or coffee beans & cocoa nibs … tea leaves require less maceration time as compared to dried harder spices like those in the chai masala mix or plain coffee beans & cocoa nibs (which take 1 day longer) … tea leaves can also become bitter with time and some added floral touches (jasmin, orange blossoms, bergamot citrus) can help to counteract this bitterness, but do not add too much ‘florals’ or it will be like drinking perfume or cologne … in my case, I adjusted all ingredient amounts for a 3-4 day maximum maceration period !

  • on day 3, taste a small spoonful of each mixture and filter the mix that is ready and to your taste and/or continue macerating and re-check the mixes the following day (4 days maximum)

note : you can modify the maceration time by modifying the amount of added tea leaves, dried flowers, dried spices, coffee beans and/or cocoa nibs by +/- 1 tbsp per day (for example : for faster results, increase by 1 tbsp for each day less of maceration time or decrease by 1 tbsp for 1 extra day of maceration time) or just use 1/3 of the dry mixes (tea leaves, chai masala spices, dried florals, coffee beans and cocoa nibs) for a longer maceration period of 7 days which may be easier to schedule (start everything on the weekend and filter and bottle the next weekend) … but check every day because the instensity and flavors will depend on your ingredients !

  • strain, press solids and/or filter all mixes, adjust to your taste by diluting with more alcohol (if too aromatic) or sweeten with 1 tbsp honey (or more) if too bitter (this occurs with black & green tea leaves) or leave as is and bottle
  • serve ‘as is’ as an aromatic cocktail or simply add the desired amount of these mixes to other simpler unmixed liquors (just like adding a much lighter and less intense ‘bitters’ mix … but so much cheaper, I mean ‘inexpensive’, not ‘cheapy’.