Festive cocktails with Zara Madrusan, Made in the Shade

Images by Tasha Tylee
Words by Maggie Scardifeld

Zara Madrusan brings a bit of theatre to everything she does. As one-half of the Melbourne-born hospitality group, Made in the Shade, which she runs in partnership with her husband Michael, Madrusan delights in blurring the boundaries between good drinking and great stories, world class hospitality and production.

Madrusan delights in blurring the boundaries between good drinking and great stories, world class hospitality and production.

You can feel it in their venues. At The Everleigh in Fitzroy, now a Melbourne institution, there’s about 2,000 different cocktails in the back catalogue to pull from. “Michael spent over a decade collecting all the original cocktail books and finding the origins of each of the drinks, and that element of history is really, really fun for us,” she says. At Heartbreaker in the CBD, meanwhile, pizza and The Everleigh’s batched Bottling Co. cocktails are served at 3am with as much swagger as you’d expect at the beginning of the night. “There’s something so unique about drinking a cocktail,” she adds. "It’s the celebration, the marking of a moment.”

It’s the celebration, the marking of a moment.

Madrusan moved to Melbourne from London in 2013. She has a Masters in performance studies, and was originally hired to oversee the post-war styled Gentleman’s lounge, The Elk Room, out the back of The Everleigh. Made in the Shade’s motto might be “people before drinks,” but they make a damn good case for building better drinking experiences, too. They’re the brains behind Navy Strength Ice Company – “in the same way that quality spirits and fresh citrus are essential, ice must be perfect too,” says Madrusan – and in July, they made their first foray into restaurant-land with French brasserie, Bar Margaux (not to mention, the likes of French onion soup and steak frites past midnight). Sydney, we have a lot to learn.

For those of us unable to slide up to the bar at The Everleigh or Margaux this festive season, fear not. Here, Madrusan shares two of her favourite classic cocktails that can be easily thrown together at home. “The Airmail is quite similar to a Daiquiri. It’s such a fun party drink. Rum goes down well with most people, and it’s super refreshing.” The Invisible Gin Punch, meanwhile, spikes zingy pineapple juice and ginger beer with gin and fresh lemon. “Pineapple juice and ginger are two of my favourite ingredients in summer cocktails. Sour and fruit-like spice pair really well together.”

The recipes


“Whenever we’re asked to host parties, personal or work related, Champagne cocktails are a great place to start. They immediately lift the mood,” says Madrusan. “A Daiquiri never fails to get me on my feet. The addition of honey gives it a smooth sweetness and the Champagne brings the whole thing to life.”

30ml light rum
15ml lime juice
15ml honey syrup (3 parts honey to 1 part hot water)

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with Champagne.

Linen apron by IN BED

Bartender wears the IN BED linen apron in Pine.

Invisible Gin Punch

“In our book, A Spot at the Bar, we worked on a whole chapter of drinks for at home – stuff that’s easy to put together while lunch is cooking and you’ve got a bunch of people over. This one ticks all the boxes: it looks pretty, people can help themselves, and they can go back for a few more when no-one is looking.”

Serves 10-12
700ml gin
450ml fresh pineapple juice
240ml lemon juice
500-700ml ginger beer

Add gin, pineapple juice and lemon juice to a punchbowl with large blocks of ice. Top up with ginger beer to taste. Garnish with pineapple and lemon slices. Serve in a rocks glass with ice.

Linen napkins by IN BED

Drinks are served over an IN BED linen napkin in Pine.