Words by Jane Ryan
Learn how to prebatch six delicious cocktails and where you can set up a picnic to enjoy them BYO-style.
Late afternoon summertime drinking is about to hit Aus in a big way. It’s an activity best enjoyed in the great outdoors with vibrant sunsets, platters of dips, chips and soft cheeses and that celebratory feeling that only comes from warm afternoons surrounded by friends.
Unlike our European friends, who can seemingly pitch up to any vacant patch of grass and pop open some cans and bottles on a summer’s evening, we’re a little more tightly governed as to where we can drink, and when. So we’ve rounded up the best BYO-friendly spots in our major cities, and explored some easy prebatched cocktails you can take with you, to ensure you’re still sipping delicious drinks.
Prebatched cocktails are devilishly simple and require little to no assembly once you’ve set up your picnic. Treat them like a bottle of white wine (i.e. keep them in the esky on ice) and you’ll be good to go. Be sure to pack a little extra ice for your drinks too.
The only equipment you’ll need for these drinks is an empty, washed-out wine or spirits bottle (should be 75cl or 750ml), a measuring jug and a funnel. No shaker required.
Simply add all the ingredients into the empty bottle ahead of time and keep it chilled until it's time to serve. This only works for drinks that don't need to be shaken to dilute them, so follow the recipes below to achieve the perfect picnic cocktails.
RHUBARB & BASIL GIN SMASH
We say: So fresh and fragrant, with sweet apple and a tangy, tart gin. Basil is a great flavour for spring, and works wonders in this smash that is reminiscent of rhubarb and apple crumble whilst still bringing plenty of freshness.
Glass: Collins glass
Method: ADD the first four ingredients to an empty 75cl wine or spirits bottle and keep chilled. When ready to serve pour out 150ml of the mixture into a glass and gently stir. Add a handful of basil leaves (give them a gentle smack first to release their aroma) and stir again. Fill with ice. Makes 5 serves.
250ml Chase Rhubarb & Bramley Apple gin
250ml Cloudy apple juice
100ml Fresh lemon juice
50ml Sugar syrup
5 handfuls of Basil leaves
We say: More mellow than your traditional Negroni, with sloe gin adding richness and flavour.
Glass: Old-fashioned glass
Garnish: Orange wedge
Method: ADD all ingredients to an empty 75cl wine or spirits bottle and keep chilled. Pour out 75ml of the mix into a glass over ice. Makes 10 serves.
250ml Chase Oak-Aged Sloe & Mulberry gin
250ml Sweet vermouth
Cocktail hack: change this from a Sloegroni to a Seville Marmalade Negroni by swapping the sloe gin to Chase Seville Marmalade Gin
PINK GRAPEFRUIT SPRITZ
We say: Very refreshing and light, striking the perfect balance between sweet and sour.
Glass: Wine glass
Garnish: Grapefruit slice
Method: ADD the first two ingredients to an empty 75cl wine or spirits bottle and keep chilled. When ready to serve pour out 62.5ml of the mixture into a glass and fill with ice. TOP with tonic water. Makes 12 serves.
600ml Chase Pink Grapefruit & Pomelo gin
150ml Rose Vermouth
Tonic to top
GB RED SNAPPER
We say: Looks and tastes a lot like a Bloody Mary but has the wonderful baking of gin’s aromatic botanicals. A perfect brunch picnic treat.
Glass: Collins glass
Garnish: Cherry tomato
Method: ADD all the ingredients to an empty 75cl wine or spirits bottle and keep chilled. When ready to serve pour out 170ml of the mixture into a glass and fill with ice. Makes four serves.
200ml Chase GB Gin
400ml Tomato juice
80ml Lemon juice
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
4 dashes Tabasco sauce
A few pinches of pepper
MARTINI – GIN OR VODKA
We say: A wise bartender from Duke’s Hotel in London (where Ian Fleming famously wrote James Bond) once said a Martini has three ingredients, gin or vodka, vermouth, and the lemon peel that is spritzed over the top. So just because you’re having your Martini in the park, don’t forget to pre-cut your lemon twist – it’s an essential ingredient.
Glass: Martini glass
Garnish: Lemon twist
Method: ADD all the ingredients to an empty 75cl wine or spirits bottle and keep chilled. When ready to serve pour out 70ml of the mixture into a glass and fill with ice. Makes 10 serves.
600ml Chase GB Gin or Chase English Potato Vodka
100ml Dry vermouth
We say: A bright and elevated G&T serve with zesty orange and vermouth aromatics to take your picnic from boozy to bougie.
Glass: Wine glass
Garnish: Rosemary sprig
Method: ADD the first three ingredients to an empty 75cl wine or spirits bottle. Keep chilled. When ready to serve pour out 50ml of the mixture into a glass and fill with ice. TOP with tonic water. Makes 15 serves.
560ml Chase Seville Marmalade Gin
185ml bianco vermouth
Several dashes of orange bitters
Tonic water to top
Pirrama Park, Pyrmont: This regional harbourside park features an extensive playground, barbecue and picnic areas. Alcohol can be enjoyed between 10am-10pm.
Centennial Parklands, Randwick: Centennial Park is the largest public green space in the city so it’s easy to find a patch of green that feels private. Wander down to the lake or find a spot of shade under the enormous trees. Alcohol can be enjoyed at any time.
Bicentennial Park, Glebe: With playing fields, barbecue spots, off-leash areas and the stunning foreshore to wander along, Bicentennial park is filled with gorgeous water-side spots to stop and enjoy a picnic. Alcohol can be enjoyed between 10am-10pm.
East Esplanade, aka The Office, Manly: A long grassy strip across from the Harbour’s Cabbage Tree Bay that enjoys a vibrant crowd each evening. Alcohol can be enjoyed between 8am-8pm.
Camperdown Memorial Rest Park: This large grassed area adjacent to Federation Road is a popular spot for picnics, gatherings and even casual ball games. A stroll from Newtown, it’s also dog-friendly making it a great spot to make new furry friends. Alcohol can be enjoyed between 9am-9pm.
Wendy’s Secret Garden, North Sydney: One of the worst kept secrets in Sydney, Wendy’s Secret Garden is built into a step embankment and has many terraced walkways and meandering paths. One of the best ways to enjoy the garden is to bring a picnic and set up on one of the many tables and chairs dotted throughout the Garden. It’s dog-friendly and alcohol can be enjoyed at any time.
Parsley Bay Reserve, Woollahra: A popular harbourside park that includes an enclosed swimming area, picnic facilities and a short bushland walking circuit that takes you to a waterfall at the head of the gully, Parsley Bay is a popular venue for birthday parties, picnics and social gatherings. Alcohol can be enjoyed at any time.
Royal Botanic Gardens: With its lakes, duck ponds and long stretches of manicured lawns, all set to a dense green background, this really is the ultimate picnic spot in Melbourne. Pick a setting — perhaps a shady tree-lined grove or some picturesque waterfront turf — and settle in. Alcohol can be enjoyed at any time.
Fitzroy Gardens: As with all City of Melbourne parks you’re allowed to drink in Fitzroy Gardens (praise be the councillor who passed that bill) and there are some truly gorgeous picnic spots here among the fountains and shady avenues of grand trees. You can also check out the tiny and historic Captain Cook's Cottage and the carved Fairies Tree.
St Vincent Gardens: Designed by Clement Hodgkinson in 1868, the garden might be small but makes for a great picnic spot with its leafy trees, sunny lawn and bursts of colourful flowers. Alcohol can be enjoyed here from 12pm-8pm.
Carlton Gardens: A popular picnic and barbecue area, thanks to its large stretches of green, open spaces and big shady trees, the heritage-listed Carlton Gardens are home to an array of wildlife, dramatic tree-lined avenues, a stunning fountain and miniature lakes. Alcohol can be enjoyed at any time.
Flagstaff Gardens: Flagstaff Gardens is the oldest park in Melbourne and today is one of the most visited and widely used parks in the city, perfect for a picnic by the stunning rose gardens with food from the nearby Queen Victoria Market. Come with a group for a barbecue and a game of tennis. Alcohol can be enjoyed here any time.
Edinburgh Gardens: Located in the heart of North Fitzroy, there are plenty of open lawn areas, shady and sheltered spots and garden beds all connected by an extensive network of paths. Alcohol can be enjoyed here any time.
The Domain Parklands: Although technically encompassing the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Domain also includes Alexandra Park, Alexandra Gardens, Queen Victoria Gardens and the Kings Domain which makes up for a total of 123 hectares of lush parkland. Picnic along ornamental ponds, spacious lawns, ornamental gardens and barbeque areas. Alcohol can be enjoyed here any time.
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