75 Ways with Leftover Beverages

What to do if you have a little leftover of this or that, alcoholic or non? While it would be impossible to cover every single beverage, here are some great ideas that might give you inspiration.

Leftover Beverages might seem like a no brainer: Just drink them, right? But a surprising amount can go down the drain.

Sometimes you have too much, maybe you’ve had a party or perhaps you have something on hand you don’t usually drink. Here are a few ideas for some of the most common beverages you might have around.

Pot Roast Carbonnade - a play on Beouf Carbonnade. A Beer Braised Pot Roast just dripping with Caramelized Onions
Pot Roast Carbonnade – a play on Beouf Carbonnade. A Beer Braised Pot Roast just dripping with Caramelized Onions

beer:

I know some people would think I’m nuts to even suggest there’s such a thing as leftover beer! If you just have an odd bottle or maybe didn’t finish one (alcohol sterilizes, right) think about using your beer in a few of these dishes.

Beer recipes are getting easier to find with the renewed interest in beer and all the craft beers out there. Here are a few of my faves. By the way, most recipes are just fine with “flat” beer.

1. rarebit:

From my earliest memories, my Dad made Cheese Rarebit, a recipe from my Grandmother. I don’t know if Grandma used beer, but Dad sure did! Here’s my Welsh Cheese Rarebit.

2. pot roasts & carbonnade:

I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I’d lap up this Pot Roast Carbonnade in a heartbeat. And have many times! It’s a play off the traditional Flemish dish of Carbonnade.

3. beer battered onion rings:

Why stop just at onion rings – try this batter from my Crispy Vidalia Onion Rings on just about anything you can get your hands on. By the way, it has a Chili Lime Dipping Sauce. Booyah!

4. beer cheese bread:

Use just about any beer and any cheese and make this Beer Cheese Bread your own! It’s moist, delish and has just a pleasant little tanginess and the faintest touch of sweet.

5. baked ham:

My favorite way to cook ham is to dump a beer over it. No recipe needed – just cook at 325 degrees F., covered, until it’s done.

6. beer cheese soup:

Winter, cold, snow. When you need something heartwarming, think about Beer Cheese Soup. We like to serve it with popcorn, on the side, so it doesn’t get soggy.

7.  chili:

There’s no shortage of recipes out there for Chili that uses beer as an ingredient. I happen to be partial to my Instant Pot recipe, The Best Chili. I know, I know, those are “fightin’ words!”

8. pub cheese:

Pub Cheese – a.k.a. Beer Cheese. For someone who doesn’t like Beer much, I sure seem to cook with it a lot. This spread is amazing!

9. beer can chicken:

So you’re thinking about Beer Can Chicken? I don’t think you can go wrong with any recipe from Serious Eats.

10. beer brined meats:

These Herb Rubbed Beer Brined Pork Chops are excellent, but why stop there? The same concept would be marvelous with Ribs or other barbecued or grilled meats.

11. meals with sausage & sauerkraut:

Beer pairs well with long-simmered braises of pork or sausage and sauerkraut like this one from Taste of Home.  While you might think it would make the sauerkraut even tangier, the beer lends a subtle sweetness and balance.

12. beer brats:

There’s no sense in even thinking about Beer Brats unless you’re using a recipe or method from Wisconsin or Minnesota. Trust me, this recipe from AllRecipes is spot on.

Fromage Fort - cheese wine
Fromage Fort – toasted under the broiler until melty and browned in spots

wine or champagne:

As far as drinking? As soon as the wine is opened, it starts the oxidization process and will become dull over time. Red, aged wines hold up better than newer or white wines. We’re looking at a week for reds to several days for whites. Dessert and very sweet wines will last for months. Pour leftover wine into a smaller container and cap tightly.

But for cooking? It really doesn’t matter how old wine is in most recipes, especially long, slow braises. Even if a wine is soured and on the way to vinegar, it’s still good for recipes. They’ll taste a little different but older wine will work especially well in dishes that call for wine and vinegar. And if your wine is really soured, well, you’ve made vinegar.

There are tons of recipes for dishes with wine…here are a few more unusual uses.

1. freeze:

Simply pour into ice-cube trays and freeze. Pop out, put in Ziplocs and use in recipes. It’s just as easy or easier to just pour into Ziplocs in measurements you might use, for instance, 1/2 cup or 1 cup measurements, then freeze.

2. jellies:

Yes, jellies. They’re delicious! I’d lean toward champagne, sparkling water or sweeter, fruitier wine, red or rose or white. Allrecipes has a recipe and you can cut back to how much wine you have and if you don’t want to process, just store in the fridge.

3. syrup:

Reduce wine with sugar and use it for fruit, desserts, breakfast items or salad dressings. See this recipe from The Splendid Table for Spiced Red Wine Syrup.

4. cook:

Use in soups, stews, casseroles, cream sauces, gravies or anywhere else you’d use fresh wine.

5. soup & sauces:

Add a splash of white to chicken soups, or a splash of red to tomato-based soups, and do the same for richer sauces.

6. desserts:

Sprinkle a little on a dry cake or other desserts.

7. whipped cream:

Add a touch to whipping cream to serve with desserts.

8. pour over fruit or make a dried fruit compote:

Just pull out the wine and pour over citrus segments, sliced pears, peaches, watermelon or other fruit. Mix with dried fruits in a baked compote, like my Dried Fruits in Spiced Wine.

9. add to cheese:

Make Fromage Fort, leftover wine with leftover cheese? It’s the perfect alchemy.

10. mulled wine or sangria:

If you have quite a bit of wine, mull it with spices. One day, I’ll post my recipe, but in the meantime, why not try Ina’s, and of course, Sangria! Go ghetto and mix your wine with spice or 7-up.

11. sour wine:

Just in use in recipes that call for vinegar. Best in recipes that are cooked and have small amounts.

12. make vinegar:

If your wine has soured, you’re even closer! Making vinegar in small amounts is super easy and requires no special equipment.

Pumpkin Spice Latte
Pumpkin Spice Latte

coffee:

So many people who drink coffee brew up a pot and dump any leftover down the drain. It’s a long-standing habit for many people. Coffee is not inexpensive and some of these habits that are done every day really add up

I came across a little post where someone explained how they brew up their coffee, refrigerate it and reheat by the cup. That’s got to taste better than brewing a pot, letting it sit on the coffee machine, drinking from it all day and tossing the rest. At 30 cents a cup, wasting 2 cups a day is around $220 dollars a year. That’s a good chunk of the appx. $350 to $570 dollars of food the average American wastes every year.

1. freeze for beverages:

Use frozen coffee ice-cubes for frozen coffee concoctions like the Copycat McDonalds Fake Frappes.

2. freeze for recipes:

Freeze to have on hand for recipes. From baked goods or frostings,  Coffee enhances chocolate flavors so well. I love it in my Cafe Latte Cake. Add them to any savory recipe that could use a coffee kick. It’s nice to have a little on hand.

3. freeze to use as ice-cubes:

If you like iced coffee or mocha hot chocolate, use coffee ice cubes in it! The ice cubes will chill room temperature coffee and will cool down your hot chocolate to a drinkable state just a bit as they melt.

4. chill:

Chill and drink iced coffee.

5. add a splash to gravy:

You can make Red Eye Gravy, but you can add a little splash to almost any gravy to deepen the flavor.

6. pour over ice-cream:

The Italians call this Affogado. Google up a recipe.

7. whipped cream:

Add a touch to whipping cream.

8. chili:

Many of the fancier chilis add a bit of coffee for some deep, toasted background flavor.

9. make irish coffee:

Even though I’m not much of a coffee drinker, I’d never turn down an Irish coffee! Unless I’m driving.

10. mocha overnight oats:

Hey, I’m not a lover of coffee, but mocha kind of makes my heart sing a little. Try coffee in your Overnight Oats.

11. popsicles:

Just freeze for popsicles or try getting a little fancier, like in this recipe from the Cozy Kitchen for Mocha popsicles.

12. smoothies:

Get your breakfast and coffee kick in one of these protein-packed Chocolate Espresso Smoothies from the Lemon Bowl.

Spiced Tea, hot or cold. Serve as is or make it into a punch.
Spiced Tea, hot or cold. Serve as is or make it into a punch.

fruit juices:

If you have kids, you might never have leftover juice, but if you’re like me and open a container with good intentions…well if I’m not careful I have prison punch on my hands!

Someday, I’ll probably expand by different types of juices, but here are some ideas to get you started.

1. freeze for beverages:

Use frozen juice ice-cubes for slushies or smoothies or to drop in water.

2. substitute for wine:

Lots of juices can go in recipes instead of wine. Here’s a handy-dandy cheat sheet.

3. add to smoothies:

I know, it’s a no-brainer.

4. spiced tea:

This Spiced Tea is pretty amazing. It’s great when you’re sick. Serve it warm or cold and think about turning it into a punch if you have a party.

5. flavored water:

When the juice is too much on its own, add to water, soda or seltzer water.

6. syrup:

Some juices can be reduced for a flavored syrup. Apple, Apple Cider, Pear, Peach all come to mind immediately.

7. glaze:

Use as is or reduce and glaze. Think pork chops or chicken breasts, maybe chicken wings. Combine with other ingredients if desired.

8. salad dressings:

Citrus and pomegranate are great in salad dressings. Other flavors have great possibilities, too. I love this Honey Citrus Vinaigrette.

9. add to soups & stews:

A splash of pomegranate is great in a soup or stew but really think tomato, here, or maybe V-8.

10. deglaze:

Deglaze the pan you’ve used to cook chicken or pork chops in with juice for a quick pan sauce. I changed this recipe for Cumin Dusted Pork Chops up for a combo of citrus, but it was originally made with OJ. All kinds of fruity juices could work in similar recipes.

11. popsicles:

We made popsicles when I was a kid with our juice, in paper cups. Things are more sophisticated now so maybe you’d like to look at these fun popsicles from Fresh Thymes.

12. marinades:

Add citrus, pomegranate, pineapple orange and maybe others to marinades. Pear is great in Bulgogi!

Dr. Pepper Ham from Food & Wine

soft drinks or sodas:

There are a lot of non-food uses for a bit of leftover soda pop (there, I hope I satisfied both the areas that say soda and those that say pop!

I’m focusing on the food uses. Well, because this is a food blog. Of course, you can just drink it. But maybe it’s left from a party and something you don’t normally use, or has gone flat. Here are some ideas.

1. float, old-fashioned soda or egg cream:

If your pop isn’t flat, make a float (ice-cream plus pop), or a soda (called an egg cream in New York (chocolate sauce in the bottom, then clear soda, topped by ice-cream.)

2. slushies:

Make slushies from any kind of pop or soda you’d like. Check out this very fun post from Wonder How To.

3. popsicles:

Mix with yogurt or layer with yogurt in popsicle molds. Easy peasy and perfect for a hot, hot day.

4. bbq sauce:

Several kinds of pop can be used in barbecue sauce. I’ve heard of it made with cherry colas, like Dr. Pepper, plain cola and sweet clear pop like 7-up.

5. ham:

The same pops used in barbecue sauce can be used to glaze a ham. This Dr. Pepper Ham from Food & Wine looks marvelous! The photo is from the same link.

6. wings & bbq type items:

So many recipes, so many possibilities! Just do a search and find something that looks interesting.

7. baked goods:

There’a no end of baked goods, cakes, pound cakes, brownies, cupcakes, etc., that use a little coke, 7-up, Dr. Pepper or similar soda.

8. apple dumplings:

The sauce for apple dumplings is sometimes made out of Sprite, 7-up or Mountain Dew. Here’s an easy recipe from Southern Bite.

9. brisket:

There’s an old recipe for brisket and plenty for pot roasts, too. See this recipe, it’s from Leite’s kitchen, so you know it has to be good..

10. sloppy joes:

Yes, there is a Diet Coke recipe for Sloppy Joes. I suppose to give the sweetness with fewer calories. I’d like to know if anyone tries this!!

11. bake apples:

Cola Baked Apples might not sound great, but click the link and feast your eyes on this Paula Deen Recipe.

12. clean burnt pans:

The acid in the coke will clean off burnt pans if left overnight. Warning, I have not tried this and unless you know exactly how this works, try it first on a pan that’s hopeless.

Dried Cranberry & Tea Infused Scones

tea:

You might not be concerned over a little leftover Liptons, but some teas are pricey and precious and you won’t want to waste a drop. (Actually, I think ALL food is precious!)

If you want to use your tea leaves more than once, don’t use them if kept out wet for more than three hours. Immediately spread them out thinly on a plate and let them air dry.

1. make ice tea:

No brainer, right? If you have a pot of leftover tea, just ice it.

2. spiced tea:

You’ll love this Spiced Tea that can be served warm or cold. The tea is mixed with juice so even if you have a small amount, riff off the recipe.

3. popsicles:

Mix with juice and freeze in popsicle molds. Easy peasy and perfect for a hot, hot day. Pear & tea is amazing.

4. freeze:

You can freeze in serving size portions and use to keep lunches cold. Bonus: you’ll have your ice tea once it thaws. Hack this trick on a larger scale when camping or going on a picnic.

5. ice cubes:

Freeze in ice-cube trays to cool your ice tea or other beverages. Add a slice of lemon, a little mint or maybe a raspberry in each compartment.

6. soak fruit for baking:

When you’re soaking dried fruit, like raisins, for a recipe, use tea instead of plain old water or alcohol.

7. baked goods:

There are recipes that use tea. Maybe not a lot, but check out my Dried Cranberry & Tea Infused Scones, for one.

8. marinate poultry & meat:

Once you the idea gets hold, there’s no stopping you. Here’s 10 Tea Infused Marinades and Brines from the FoodNetwork Canada.

9. brisket:

There’s an old recipe for brisket and plenty for pot roasts, too. See this recipe, it’s from Leite’s kitchen, so you know it has to be good..

10. cocktails:

Cool yourself down on a hot day! Here’s 19 Thirst Quenching Tea Cocktails from Buzzfeed.

11. spritzers:

Add a little club soda, a dash of fruit juice and a garnish of your choice to your leftover tea. Marvelous!

12. easter eggs:

Dye Easter eggs, crack the shells if you’d like to make marbled eggs.  After peeling, they will have a gorgeous tracing of color.

Coquito, a creamy, frothy coconut & rum cocktail
Coquito, a creamy, frothy coconut & rum cocktail

mixed drinks:

So you’ve had a party and have a pitcher or a punch leftover. You probably think you’re going to need to toss it, and you might be tempted to shove it in the fridge, where you might or might not use it later. Take out the ice cubes, at least, if you’re doing this.

I don’t have a lot of ideas for leftover cocktails, but some can probably be repurposed.

1. slushie:

Toss it in a Ziploc instead and put it in the freezer, where it likely won’t freeze hard because of the alcohol, but instead will be a mixed drink slushy. How marvelous is that?

2. fruit:

Depending what’s in the cocktail, pour it over fruit for an adult treat. Pina Coladas, Margaritas would be good. Let your imagination run wild.

3. adult smoothie:

Can you add dairy, ice, juice or frozen fruit to a blender along with your cocktail? Hmm…possibly!

sharing:

I’m sure there are dozens and dozens of other uses for leftover beverages  – anyone out there have any go-to ideas they’d like to share?

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