You might think of sangria as a summer drink—which it is—but this autumn version just might be the best I’ve ever had. The pretty jug in the photo was stirred together by my friend Molly McNeil, a cocktail minxtress if ever I’ve met one, based on a version by the talented Leslee Miller of Amusee. I tell you, the number of ladies out there with interesting, adventurous palates is just endless!
As I’ve likely mentioned before, I’m not big on sweets, so I appreciate a sangria with balance. This version hits all the right notes as far as I’m concerned—fruity with apples and lemons, with hints of rosemary, cloves, and Benedictine to keep things interesting. Molly served this at a recent party at her Uncle Dave’s Minnesota Peach Farm, to a group of cooks/chefs/food writers, and it was drained…fast.
By Molly McNeil based on a recipe by Leslee Miller/Amusee
Begin a few hours before you plan to serve the sangria.
1 cup Brandy
1/4 cup Benedictine (or B&B)
1/4 cup Grand Marnier (sweet/syrupy)*
6 bottles Cava (any dry white wine will do; recommended Chenin Blanc or Viognier, but don’t break the bank becuase the other flavors in this sangria will come through as well
5 medium Honeycrisp apples, cut into large circular slices (coring optional)
2 large lemons, thinly sliced
2 tsp whole cloves
3-4 Tbsp wildflower honey
a few sprigs of rosemary
Mix brandy, B&B, and Grand Marnier with the honey in something with a lid (perhaps a large mason jar) and shake it up to help disolve the honey. Pour mixture into what you plan to serve the sangria from and add half of the lemon slices and half the cloves. Let this stand for at least a couple of hours.
When ready to serve, add sliced apples, remaining lemon slices and cloves, all the cava (or other wine), and a few rosemary sprigs.
*Both B&B and Grand Marnier are optional. You could also punch up the lemon with limoncello instead of Grand Marnier.
**For a less-boozy version, sub sparkling water for some of the wine.