Apple Cider Sangria

People usually associate sangria with summer and outdoor parties, but there's absolutely no reason you shouldn't drink it year-round! It's a great thing to make for a crowd of people, as almost everyone in the universe likes it, and it can easily be adjusted, booze-wise, if you don't want your party guests getting too sloshed.

My sister had asked me to bartend her bridal shower, and I, not wanting to miss out on the fun of games and cupcakes, suggested that perhaps I make a large batch of sangria instead. Given that this was a brunch-time celebration, and full of dignified older ladies, I didn't think many people would be lining up to order martinis. Something simple, like a self-serve festive punch, would be a better and easier beverage choice for everyone involved. She agreed, and requested a batch of apple cider sangria.

I like this recipe because it's such a nice change from the usual orange/lemon/lime flavors of traditional sangria recipes. Apple cider is a fall staple that is appropriate and welcomed for any occasion from September to January. This recipe is not terribly strong either, making it a respectable choice for proper day-drinking. I did, of course, amp up the leftovers with a little extra brandy and Triple sec, but I kept the booze level "PG" for the actual shower.

This version is a little bit more involved than your usual "slice & dump" sangria recipe. The apple cider is reduced down to a syrup prior to mixing with the wine. Reducing the cider concentrates the flavors and sugars, meaning the final product is less diluted and therefore just straight up better in every way possible. This extra step does add a few minutes of prep time, but nothing outrageous.

This recipe is for 1 bottle of wine and makes about 1 liter of sangria. I quadrupled the batch for the bridal shower, as we were expecting about 20 people and I didn't want to run out. There ended up being quite a bit leftover, but the good thing about sangria is that it will keep in the fridge for several days, if it even lasts that long!

Yield: Approximately 1 liter, or 4-6 servings

Ingredients

Preparation

  1. Add the apple cider to a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, add the cinnamon stick and ginger root, and simmer until the volume of the cider reduces to about ¼ cup. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir the cider occasionally to keep it from burning. The resulting liquid should be concentrated and syrupy.
  2. Remove the reduced cider from the heat and allow it to cool completely. Remove the ginger root and cinnamon stick at this time.
  3. In a pitcher, combine reduced cider, wine, apple brandy, and Triple sec. Stir to combine.
  4. Add diced apples to the pitcher, and stir.
  5. Chill the sangria in the refrigerator for a minimum for 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
  6. For service, pour chilled sangria into glasses and top with ginger ale (or other sparkling beverage of choice). Garnish with sangria soaked apples and fresh cranberries.

For the bridal shower, I wanted to make serving the sangria super easy and super foolproof, so that guests could effortlessly just help themselves to a glass, without needing to think about whether or not they were assembling the drink properly. So I assembled it for them, ahead of time.

I poured the chilled sangria into a pretty glass beverage dispenser and added 1 can of chilled ginger ale to the batch prior to the guests arrival. I used frozen cranberries instead of ice too keep the sangria nice and cold, without it getting watered down. For the garnishes, I skewered fresh cranberries onto toothpicks, and then plopped one into each glass to make sure everyone got one.

One should always remember to eat the fruit in your glass of sangria. That's where most of the booze goes! Plus, vitamins!