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This bourbon sangria is made with dry red wine, fruit, and just a little juice for an easy pitcher cocktail that’s perfect for fall and winter.
I didn’t always like sangria.
Super-sweet cocktails aren’t my thing, and each time I’d tried sangria, it was SWEET.
A few years ago, though, a friend ordered a pitcher of sangria for us at Lola’s Pizza in Charleston, West Virginia, and it was fantastic. Their sangria was both refreshing and, you guessed it, not overly sweet.
It was a revelation.
Since Lola’s doesn’t publish their sangria secrets, I’ve been playing around with my own versions of it.
This sangria isn’t a copy-cat. Instead, it’s inspired by Lola’s version, and skips the sugar syrup you’ll often find in sangria.
I don’t make it to Lola’s as often as I’d like to, so I’ve been recreating my usual order at home: a gorgonzola and fig jam pizza, crème brûlée for dessert and this not-too-sweet bourbon sangria.
A couple of other versions I’m enjoying these days are cranberry orange sangria and apple sangria.
Looking for more bourbon cocktails? Our favorites are a blueberry bourbon smash, apple cider Kentucky Sunrise, and Kentucky bourbon coffee.
What Kind of Wine Should I Use in Bourbon Sangria?
Bourbon has a pretty distinctive flavor, and it doesn’t play well with all wines.
That said, it’s pretty common to see a cabernet sauvignon aged in a bourbon barrel. The flavors go perfectly together.
The wine doesn’t need to be pricey, but it should be a wine that you enjoy drinking on its own.
Can I Use White Wine Instead?
We haven’t tested this sangria with a white wine, but if you prefer white to red wine, I’d go with a chardonnay.
I’d pick chardonnay for the exact same reason I initially chose a cab– it’s the white wine most commonly aged in bourbon barrels.
Can I Skip the Chill Time?
This sangria should chill for at least four hours for the best flavor.
If you’re in a rush, you could try tasting it earlier to see if the fruit has infused its sweet flavors into the wine yet, but if possible, make this ahead of time.
Can I Use Hard or Sparkling Apple Cider?
This cocktail uses either non-alcoholic apple cider (aka unfiltered apple juice) or orange juice.
If you want to use a hard or sparkling apple cider, that will work just fine, but add it just before serving.
If you add anything bubbly before chilling, it will go flat before you drink it. And that would be sad.
How to Make Bourbon Sangria
Add fruit (a combination of apples or pears plus oranges) to a pitcher.
Pour the bourbon and cider (or orange juice) over the fruit.
Next, open a bottle of dry red wine. I like to use a vertical lever corkscrew to open my wine bottles, because I always struggle with a classic corkscrew.
Pour your wine into the pitcher and stir.
Cover the pitcher, and let it chill for at least four hours in the refrigerator.
Taste and, if desired, add a little more juice to sweeten the sangria to your preference.
Serve this sangria chilled, and enjoy!
- 1 apple or pear, roughly chopped
- 1 orange, peeled + sliced Or 2-3 mandarin oranges (peeled + sliced or segmented)
- 2 ounces bourbon Or use another unflavored whiskey
- 2 ounces apple cider (non-alcoholic) or orange juice Use more for a sweeter sangria
- 750 milliliter bottle cabernet sauvignon Or use another dry red wine
- Add fruit to a large pitcher. Add the bourbon and cider (or orange juice).
- Pour the wine into the pitcher and stir.Cover the pitcher and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Taste the sangria. If desired, add more juice for a sweeter sangria.Serve chilled.
- Use all oranges, all apples or all pears
- Use plums, pomegranate seeds or persimmons
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