I’ve had a love-hate relationship with sangria for quite some time. Over the years, sangria has come in and out of my life, bringing me both joy and significant pain. In college, I used to make what I liked to call “hobo sangria,” which….wait for it….was a deliciously classy combination of cheap red wine, diet gingerale, and muddled limes. Naturally, that cocktail has fallen by the wayside as I’ve gotten older and fancier, and I can’t say that I miss it.
Post-college, I dabbled with sangria on vacation, at the occasional tapas restaurant, and at certain theme parties. It was always delicious and went down smoothly, but it usually resulted in one of my scary hangovers. Therefore, sangria consumption was limited to the occasional indulgence. Or it was until late last spring, when I swore off sangria forever.
It was Sunday, May 13, 2012. I remember the date because it was Mother’s Day. Logan and I were taking a post-brunch walk around the West Village when we spotted some very happy looking people sitting outside a Mexican restaurant called Bamboleo. Said happy people were drinking cute little pitchers of fruity sangria complete with authentic-looking wooden spoons. The whole scene practically screamed fun, so Logan and I decided to get involved.
We enjoyed one pitcher of sangria. And then another. We began calling friends to join us in our afternoon revelry. Friends came. More pitchers were drunk. Six hours later, my mother and brother showed up because, like I said, it was Mother’s Day. They also drank the sangria. Everyone got Bamboleo’d! Long story short, Monday was not nearly as much fun as Sunday, and I solemnly swore that I would never drink sangria again. Ever.
I made good on that promise for an impressive period, and not a drop of sangria passed these lips for over a year. However, a few weeks ago, sangria suddenly came back into my life, and so far the relationship has been pretty sweet. Logan and I were at brunch a couple weeks ago when he saw some girls drinking something fruity and bubbly in wine glasses. He inquired about the “dank-looking cocktails” and was told that they were the sparkling sangria special. Logan enthusiastically ordered one for both of us (despite my Bamboleo-induced protestations) and upon taking his first sip exclaimed, “Jesus Christ! Fuck, that’s good. Awesome summer treat.” While slightly inappropriate, Logan’s appraisal of the sparkling sangria was spot on. It was a delicious summer treat, and we had several.
Logan and I returned to the same spot the following Sunday for the magical sparkling sangria, but it wasn’t the same, and we were very disappointed. Therefore, I decided to recreate the sangria on my own. Not to toot my own horn, but I actually like my version better than the original, and I have already made Sparkling Sangria twice this week.
Sparkling Sangria is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the berries and peaches that will be overstocked everywhere for the next couple of months. I want you to make use of these summer fruits as much as possible because not only are they delicious, they’re good for you too. I’m sure some of you will look at this recipe and think, “Serena, that’s a lot fruit for a few cocktails.” Yes, yes it is. You are so observant!
I like a lot of fruit in my sangria. Nothing makes me angrier than a glass of sangria with like two apple squares and a single grape floating in it. That is why this recipe is packed with as much fresh fruit as possible. It’s kinda like having a boozy fruit cup, which is great, since I usually like to have a snack with my cocktail. I recommend keeping some teaspoons nearby so that you can easily consume the fruit once you’ve finished the liquid portion of your sangria. Our “sparkling sangria special” waitress gave me this idea when she brought me a spoon after watching me use two red cocktail straws like chopsticks to extract fruit from my wine glass for twenty minutes. Game changer.
The best part about this sangria is that it’s not sickeningly sweet, and it doesn’t involve 7 different liquors or mass quantities of sugar. Since Champagne and Prosecco are both dry sparkling wines, this sangria is actually a surprisingly light and refreshing cocktail, and it won’t give you a Bamboleo-esque hangover. If you’re partial to tangier drinks, you can always add a splash of fresh lemon, lime, or grapefruit juice.
Whipping up a pitcher of Sparkling Sangria is a breeze. All you have to do is toss the fruit in the pitcher with some sugar and orange liqueur and let it macerate for 45 minutes. The berries and peaches will soften slightly and release their juices, which serves as the pretty and delightfully fresh base of this sparkling cocktail. Just pop the champagne before serving, pour it over the macerated fruit and serve your sangria over ice.
As far as looks go, Sparkling Sangria is a total sexpot. As you can see, it’s a beautiful shade of light pink, and the floating fresh fruit is very enticing. I recommend dressing up all of your brunches, lunches, dinners, and cocktail parties this summer with Sparkling Sangria. Having a full bar at a party is great, but there’s something impressive about serving a signature cocktail. This is it, folks.
Blogger’s Note: Photographing this sangria was stressful. I missed the good light on the porch, so I was forced to climb down into the “wilderness” on my Dad’s property to capture the beauty of this cocktail in the sunlight. As the light was rapidly disappearing, and I was only wearing a bathing suit at the time, I had to throw on the closest clothes at hand. Dressed in a What Not To Wear-worthy ensemble of leggings, a floral top, mismatching neon socks and running shoes, I forged a trail through the brush with my camera around my neck and sangria in both hands to find a flat rock on which to photograph my cocktails. I then lay down in the brush to take pictures, which was uncomfortable, to say the least. I have since developed a rash on my chest/arms, which may be psychosomatic, but nevertheless should be taken seriously. I also put myself at risk for tick bites (meaning that I could very well get Lyme disease), and I have several mosquito bites and scratches on my ankles. I tell you this because my dedication to getting a decent photo is a testament to how much I want you to make this sangria. If nothing else, I got a rash for you guys. You owe it to me to try this recipe.
1 cup strawberries, quartered
1 cup blueberries
2 small ripe peaches, pitted and cut into ¼ inch pieces
¼ cup granulated sugar
4 oz orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
1 bottle Champagne or Prosecco, chilled
Preparing your Sparkling Sangria:
-Quarter the strawberries and cut up your peaches. I leave the skin on, but feel free to peel them if the skin offends you.
-Place the fruit in a medium pitcher. Add the sugar and orange liqueur and gently mix. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes (and up to 24 hours) to allow the fruit to macerate.
-When ready to serve your sangria, add the champagne/prosecco and serve on ice. Celebrate.
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