Take Sangria To The Next Level This Fall with a Southern-style craft cocktail made with Chardonnay and Vanilla Bourbon!
Fall season is here! Don’t you love the smells and flavors of spice? The air gets crisper and the temperatures finally start getting cooler but in Florida it’s always warm. A sangria is perfect! Wherever you are, it’s time to invite friends over and enjoy all the flavors of the season with my “fall in a glass” Southern Apple Pie Sangria.
Any time you use wine in a cocktail, it’s instantly called sangria, right? But, do you ever want more than a sweet, summery fruity punch? I do!
I wanted to create more than a simple sangria for this collaboration with CK Mondavi and Family. I was thrilled they sponsored my presentation at FLBlogCon, the largest gathering of Florida bloggers, held in Orlando each fall. I had the opportunity to demo this cocktail so I tapped into my love of craft cocktails to take the sangria to the next level! I shared my tips to entertain like a mixologist, and my insight to building successful relationships between bloggers and hospitality brands. Check out the slides of my session “How To Get More Than A Free Meal and a One Night Stand.” The response was wonderful and I was so grateful for the kind comments.
The Story Behind The Drink.
I love learning the history of food and having a story when I create recipes for my guests. It enhances the experience and makes it more memorable. Did you know sangria, the traditional red wine punch popular around the world, was first served in the United States at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York? The Spanish World area served the fruity concoction of red wine, fruit juices, soda water, brandy and fresh fruit to visitors, and history was made!
I bet their sangria was as popular as mine was at the FLBlogCon after-party. This recipe is so easy to make, packed with fresh flavors of apples and spice with all the elements of a craft cocktail to impress your guests.
Since 1964, hundreds if not thousands of sangria recipes have been created. Everyone has their special touch and even secret recipe. I hope you like my version and will be inspired to create your own to share with friends.
How to Infuse Fall Flavors in Your Cocktails?
While everyone is going crazy for everything pumpkin this time of year, I prefer apple pie. I crave fresh-baked apple pies like the ones my big sister made when I was a kid. It was the only recipe I ever made from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook she gave me when I left for college. I was known for making apple pies from scratch in a tiny dorm room kitchen. This cocktail brought back memories of those times. Isn’t that what you want when creating a memorable cocktail? I talk more about this in my Tips to Entertain Like a Mixologist post.
For advice on how to give my cocktail that apple pie flavor, I reached out to Trina Gregory Propst, the wonder woman chef owner of Se7en Bites who makes the best pies in Orlando. Her sweet and savory bake shop was recently featured in Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. She has a way of blending a mix of familiar comfort with a touch of a special something you can’t quite put your finger on yet it elevates every recipe. She shared “I use the Penzeys Apple Pie spice. It is the best and has a hint of star anise.” Aha! That hint of star anise is what I couldn’t quite place. Using this high quality apple pie spice is the easiest way to go but sadly I couldn’t find it in my grocery store. Instead I made my own from fresh ground spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and allspice) and it worked out great!
How to Make Apple Pie Spice Simple Syrup?
I guarantee you will add this Apple Pie Spice simple syrup not only to this sangria but to your tea, coffee, and cocktails this fall. It is absolutely decadent and adds that cozy comfort spice to each sip.
It’s so easy to make you will be surprised why you haven’t made it before. Mix equal parts one cup of brown sugar and one cup of water with a teaspoon of apple pie spice. Dissolve sugar over low heat and that’s it!
Bourbon in Sangria?
The idea to create a more robust version of this fruity cocktail came after enjoying the Southern Sangria at Paddlefish in Orlando. The Disney Springs eatery’s sangria is unofficially called a “man-gria” because the blend of bourbon and red wine packs a subtle kick. It’s a far cry from your typical, generic, sweet sangria. Enjoy this craft cocktail with their lobster corn dogs and crab fries while chilling to the best sunset view at Disney Springs.
Since it’s a fall cocktail, why not use vanilla bourbon? It seemed like a no brainer. There are several brands of vanilla infused bourbon to choose from. Look for ones that use real Madagascar vanilla, it gives the bourbon a sweet note which is perfect to complement the other ingredients. Price point is also important. When preparing mixed cocktails, choose spirits and wines with the highest quality to value ratio. This is another reason I love CK Mondavi wines. I don’t have to spend a fortune (they retail around $5.99/bottle) to get great quality.
The bourbon is mixed with apple pie simple syrup and used to soak a variety of apples and oranges overnight. The smell of rich vanilla and spice gives the apples some oomph. The apples give the bourbon that extra layer of flavor. This blend is then mixed with the wine and fresh apple cider for a bright, fresh and rich flavor profile.
What Wine Should I Choose for a Fall Apple Pie Sangria?
Instead of the usual red, I opted for Chardonnay. Most white sangrias call for Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or Moscato, but those varietals are more appropriate for light sweet summer cocktails. For fall, the apple and pear notes in the CK Mondavi and Family Chardonnay were perfect. It’s bright and fresh with only a slight bit of oak which plays well with the light oak in the bourbon.
Be sure to use a chilled bottle of Chardonnay when mixing your cocktail so your ice doesn’t melt quickly and dilute your drink.
Why use Bitters in Sangria?
This may surprise you but adding a dash of bitters really helps to amplify the flavors. Plus it cuts a bit of the sweetness of the apples and simple syrup. It truly elevates this sangria and gives it the craft cocktail touch. I used Peychaud’s, an orange bitters from New Orleans with slightly sweet anise notes but there are now so many flavors to choose from. Fee Brothers Black Walnut or Rhubarb, and Bitterman’s Chocolate Mole or Elemakule Tiki (a blend of tropical spices) are also fantastic to play around with.
Don’t Forget To Garnish.
I garnished this Southern Apple Pie Sangria with an apple pie spice sugar rim, cinnamon stick and slice of Granny Smith apple. Before you taste the drink, you already get the aromas of cinnamon and the taste of the apple pie spice in the sugar. Can you smell it?
Variations of the Southern Apple Pie Sangria
This recipe is so versatile, I challenge you to have some fun and modify it as you wish. Use peaches instead of apples and make it a Peach Pie Cocktail. Add pears and it becomes an all around Fall Sangria. You can even use a flavored sparkling water but stay away from artificial sweeteners and flavors. I prefer to keep it clean with just plain club soda. There is no wrong choice and part of the fun is in preparing it.
CK Mondavi and Family
Thank you again to CK Mondavi and Family for their support. It is an honor to partner with this fourth-generation family run business that is certified 100% American. Pick up your favorite varietals at your local wine and liquor store and be ready to entertain friends at a moment’s notice. My favorites for this time of year are CK Mondavi and Family Chardonnay and Scarlet Five, a full-bodied red blend that is soft and elegant perfect for any occasion.
Check out the recipes I’ve created to enjoy with CK Mondavi and Family wines: Fig Glazed Candied Bacon, Widowmaker Pizza and Gastropub Cab and Blue Burger. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more recipes and party ideas.
Go celebrate the season with my Southern Apple Pie Sangria and your best friends. Make Someday Happen!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored paid post by CK Mondavi and Family. All opinions, recipe and images are my own. As always, I only share with you experiences worth celebrating and products I love to inspire you to celebrate life and #MakeSomedayHappen one bite, sip and trip at a time! For more information on my guidelines, read my disclosure here.
All the cozy delicious flavors of fall in a refreshing glass! This is not your typical sangria! We took it up notch and turned it into a craft cocktail with vanilla bourbon soaked apples, fresh cider and bitters. Guaranteed you will enjoy this all season long!
- ½ orange (sliced in small wedges with peel)
- 1 Granny Smith apple (cored and chopped)
- 2 apples of different variety (cored and chopped. I used red delicious and gala.)
- 1 ½ cup vanilla bourbon (I used Jim Beam Vanilla)
- ¼ cup apple pie spice simple syrup (see recipe)
- 1 750 ml unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay (chilled, CK Mondavi and Family Chardonnay)
- 2 cups fresh apple cider (chilled)
- 1 can club soda (chilled)
- orange or spiced bitters (I used Peychaud’s)
- 8 cinnamon sticks (garnish)
- 1 apple (thin sliced for garnish)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp apple pie spice (see recipe or use pre-made)
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp apple pie spice
Prepare apple pie spice simple syrup (see recipe)
In a large sealable bag, combine orange slices, chopped apples, bourbon, and apple pie spice simple syrup. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, combine chilled Chardonnay wine, apple cider, bourbon fruit mixture in a large pitcher and stir.
Rim glasses with spiced sugar. (see instructions below)
When serving, don’t add ice to the pitcher. Using chilled ingredients is best so you don’t dilute the drink. Add ice to the glass after you rim with spiced sugar. Another fun trick is to make chardonnay or apple cider ice cubes to chill the drink without diluting.
Add splash of club soda and dash of bitters and stir. Garnish with cinnamon stick and apple slice. You can also use candied orange, candied ginger, or dehydrated apple chip to garnish.
Make your own by mixing ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp cardamom and 1/8 tsp allspice.
Combine water, sugar and spices in a small saucepan on medium low heat.
Bring to boil and simmer until sugar is dissolved and turns to syrup. Let sit until room temperature and then keep in refrigerator.
Combine white sugar and apple pie spice in a small shallow bowl, large enough to fit the rim of the glass.
Rub an apple slice around the rim of the glass to wet it with the juice.
Dip rim of glass generously into the spiced sugar.