I can’t pinpoint the first time I had a sangria.
The first I heard about what sangria even was, I was living in Long Island. A friend of mine told me I should try it and, I will be honest, I wasn’t too sure how I felt about the idea of combining hard liquor with wine.
I guess that’s why I had to try this summer cocktail, because, for me, it was pushing the envelope. (Pilot reference, I know. Hey, if I can learn to fly a plane, I can try a drink that mixes hard liquor and wine, right?)
Now I will be the first to admit that my alcoholic drink knowledge has always been a bit limited. When I go to a restaurant, I usually order a brandy old-fashioned sweet with olives, or cherries…because… it’s familiar, ya know? I am from Wisconsin, after all, and although I’ve been back in the dairy state now for 8 years, I am still playing catch-up on the 20 years I missed out on old-fashions (and cheese curds) while I lived on the east coast.
I still don’t know much about mixed drinks, but I am learning. Part of the world of culinary pleasures is what you pair your meal with as far as drinks go, boozy or not. Mixology, much like food, is a science… and I love science.
So this is how it went with sangria. I liked it so much that I had to go home and find a recipe so I could make it myself. You know, as an afternoon summer cocktail while sitting on the front porch watching pedestrians walk by (or as is the case now, watching the sun set over the cornfield).
So, what is sangria?
Sangria is a type of alcoholic punch. It mainly consists of:
- red wine
- chopped fruits
- a spirit
The part I love about sangria is that it is versatile. All three main ingredients come in countless varieties, which means there can be an infinite amount of sangria recipes out there. They are fruity, boozy, and perfect for summer sipping. (And snacking, if you count munching on the liquor-soaked fruits when you’ve finished drinking as a snack.)
The idea for this Sangria with Apple Brandy stemmed from a kompot recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine, (page 60 of the July/August 2020 issue, to be exact). All I did different was omit the lemon juice to cut back on some of the tartness, and I narrowed my version down to peaches, nectarines, plums, blueberries and strawberries.
I first tried the kompot with a splash of gin – because I like gin. By round two, I realized I had a bottle of red wine sitting there that was almost empty, but not quite. You know what I mean, there is enough in there that you don’t want to discard it but it will not fill a glass even half full.
So I poured the wine over my kompot and gin cocktail and had the ah ha moment…
I made it all over again and used red zinfandel. I added some apple brandy for sweetness, and also because apple brandy was the only brandy I had on hand at the time this recipe was created.
The result? This knockout summer cocktail, the Sangria with Apple Brandy.
You can use whatever red wine or zinfandel you choose, but I find that red zinfandel lends some sweetness while still remaining full-bodied. This is sangria, after all; not all sugary-sweet girly cocktail, but not all oak-aged wine and tannins, either.
Sangria really is the best of both worlds; a glass of wine and a fruity summer cocktail all wrapped up into one drink. The best part is, you can make the kompot ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week (pick a rainy day for making the kompot because it takes a few hours).
Then when the weather is fabulous, all you have to do is mix a glass of Sangria with Apple Brandy (it takes 2 minutes) and sit back and let the sipping begin.
Sangria with Apple Brandy
- 4 fl oz strained kompot recipe below
- 1 fl oz gin
- ½ fl oz apple brandy
- 1 ½ fl oz red zinfandel
- 6 blueberries for garnish
- 1 plum slice for garnish
- Fill a rocks glass (or a stemless wine glass) ¾ full with ice.
- Add the kompot, gin, apple brandy and several ice cubes to a cocktail shaker. Shake for 15 seconds or until chilled, then strain into prepared rocks glass. Top with red zinfandel, do not stir.
- Drop in a few blueberries. Place the plum slice on the edge of the glass, or drop it into the drink for good measure.
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