Prop Liquor Recipes

June 28, 2011 at 3:15 pm 11 comments

Hello fellow prop runners!

Tired of never quite being able to get instant or brewed tea to look like liquor on-stage?  It’s cloudy, inconsistent and missing that certain je ne sais quoi.  Never fear, Prop Girl is here.  These are my liquor recipes, perfected at several regional theaters.

The key is making a Liquor Base using caramel food coloring (best purchased at a baking supply store).  Have the Base on hand in the prop kitchen whenever you’re in Tech. and you can whip up any liquor on demand.  The color will be consistent from one night to the next, and it’s easy to make a darker version once it’s been seen under stage lighting.  As a bonus, it tastes just like water (no bitter tea taste) and doesn’t have to be refrigerated (although I still do).  Remember to tell Wardrobe about the change!

Liquor Base

6 cups water

½ teaspoon caramel food coloring*

*Burnt Sugar can be used in place of caramel coloring with much the same effect.

Scotch and Whiskey

1/2 cup base

4-1/2 cups water

Darker:  ¾ cup base + 4 ½ cups water

Lighter:  ¼ cup base + 3 cups water


½ cup base

4 cups water

3 drops yellow food coloring


1:1 liquor base + water


½ cup base

1-1/2 cups water


1 drop yellow food coloring

2 liters seltzer water

(alternative is Ginger Ale of course, but it’s sticky unless you get sugar-free but actors usually hate that).

Really Pale Beer    

½ cup base

16 cup water

Red Base    

6 cups water

½ teaspoon red food coloring

Elderberry Wine     (Arsenic & Old Lace)

3 cups water

1 cup caramel Liquor Base

¾ cup Red Base


This recipe looks identical to Grape Juicy Juice but isn’t sticky


Entry filed under: That's Show Biz, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  June 28, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    but how do you make a good Pimms cup? 1 part DD 1 part lil’ sar , 1 pitcher and the ideally located outdoor table

    • 2. saratoday  |  June 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm

      The key is that the outdoor table be stolen from under the nose of three skinny birds.

  • 3. jessieisskoopy  |  July 5, 2011 at 1:37 am

    Thanks for sharing. I might pass this link on to other folks out there in the theatre world.

  • 4. jessieisskoopy  |  February 28, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Hey here’s another idea for making spirits. Use toast, that’s what they did in Shakespeare’s day.

    • 5. saratoday  |  March 7, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      Huh. I guess it’s the same thing – caramel is essentially burnt sugar, as is the brownish burnt color on bread from carbohydrates.

  • 6. Anonymous  |  October 17, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Thanks for these recipes. We are doing “Black Coffee” at Germantown Community Theatre (yep, where your father is!) and I needed a recipe for whisky. I decided my tea wasn’t very professional any more. Do you have a recipe for sherry?

    • 7. saratoday  |  October 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm

      Hello. I don’t have a specific sherry recipe. Cognac (listed above) is probably close. I suggest getting some sherry and putting it in the glass you’ll be using on stage. Then make a up a batch of Liquor Base and start experimenting to find the right ratio to match the sherry.

      And then you have sherry to share with Kerry.

      • 8. Anonymous  |  October 23, 2013 at 8:36 am

        Thanks a bunch. Yes, I will share the sherry with Kerry, I try to keep him very merry.

  • 9. What color is your liquor, part 2 | dyan burlingame  |  March 6, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    […] used Eric Hart and Sara Today blogs as reference to come up with the […]

  • 10. Anonymous  |  April 7, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    Caramel color is getting harder to find in stores these days, but you can get it on Amazon.

    Btw, the straight base makes an excellent black coffee on stage.

    • 11. Betty Dilley  |  April 7, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      Thanks!  I use this all the time since you suggested it several years ago.Betty Dilley,Resident Props DesignerGermantown Community Theatre


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