So I always end up with half empty bottles. Left right and centre. A lot of them take up space I need and shamefully I’ve been guilty of throwing out more than a few of these ‘casualties’ of war.
So what can we, as responsible adults, do to combat the shameful wasting of perfectly good alcohol? Well let me share with you some recipes that are perfect for using up old ingredients and opened bottles of booze you might have lying around the house.
There are four (4) recipes in this post, all of which make use of the odd amounts of alcohol you may have lying around. Even if you don’t have the particular type of alcohol available you can gather ideas from how the recipes are put together and tweak them to suit your available spirits!
Without further ado, let’s look at those recipes:
#1Homemade Fruity Winter Punch
2L Sparkling Wine
Garnish: Citrus Fruits, Winter berries & star anise
Combine all of the ingredients in a large punch bowl.
Add sliced fruit and chill well.
If serving with ice fill up shortly before serving.
If serving chilled without ice, take out of the fridge at the last second.
500ml Pimms #1
1.5L Apple Juice
Garnish: 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 apples, 2 oranges
Add all one by one and stir well.
Leave for 30 minutes for cinnamon flavour to develop more.
Here’s a little secret: Sangria is a perfect centrepiece for parties. Ok, so it wasn’tsuper-secret – most of you already knew that! But do you know the best way to get the most out of your sangria recipes? No? Well, here is my guide to perfect sangrias every time…
Europe And Its Great But Terrible Sangria Obsession
To be faithful to my story telling roots (or, if you want to put it more bluntly, my rambling nature), I thought I’d start with a bit of history: about the origins of Sangria and, most importantly, about why wine takes centre stage in this universal favourite.
What are the origins of Sangria? Well done for those of you who answered ‘Spain’, but even more points for those of you who said Spain and identified the timeframe of 1700-1800’s. We know this historical period more commonly as the Middle Ages (think Game of Thrones, albeit a little less rose tinted – if that’s possible!). Sangria was created mainly out of necessity! Until the mid-late 19th century, safe drinking water was not as readily available as it is today; therefore, the people of the time looked for safer means of drinking.
Based upon the idea that alcohol kills off the harmful bacteria/nasty stuff that causes diseases like Cholera and Diptheria, alcohol naturally and literally became the only safe way to drink any water. In addition to the health benefits of this plan, it was obvious that certain concoctions would be socially shared (quite merrily, I might add).
As these potent mixtures gained popularity, they also accumulated added ingredients, and thus the first ‘Sangria’ recipes came to be. As milk was considered strictly for babies, and as water was more likely to kill you than keep you alive, this wine mixture was consumed en masse, and even given to young children – talk about an interesting childhood.
Traditionally, the typical Sangria consisted of several ingredients: wine, some type of brandy and fruit. This mixture – in one form or another – became popular across Europe for hundreds of years, and has eventually been refined into the modern Sangria we know and love so much. Introduced into the USA back in 1964’s World Fair in New York, Sangria really put Spain (and red wine, especially) on the map across the Americas.
To this day, traditional Sangria is still made using red wine, brandy and fruit, although sugar and fruit juices are generally both used as well.
But where do you begin with the preparation of your Sangria? What ingredients do you need to rustle up a crowd pleasing wonder? Well, before I share with you my easy-to-follow recipes, why don’t you quickly review this check list to get a basic Idea of the ingredients you’ll need:
Wine or non-alcoholic substitute.
Try using different fruit juices. Base fruit juices such as orange, apple, peach and grape are great possibilities.
Sugar: preferably unrefined brown/muscovado – it’s richer in flavour and is not as bad for you as the refined white cane sugar. Honey/Agave Nectar are also great substitutes.
Spirits: rum, vodka, gin, tequila and liqueurs – choose those that work best with the wine you’ve picked. For instance, try using tequila in a spicy style wine, and rum for a sweet one.
Once you have your plethora of ingredients, you can move on to the step by step guide below (here’s some free advice: for that added ‘special something’, try using locally grown seasonal ingredients; they will add much more flavour and you can direct your friends on where to acquire them).
How to Mix Sangria
One giant leap
Start by mixing the wine, chosen spirit, juice and sugar together and then cover and chill for approximately 1-2 hours.
I find that taking your sweet time will result in a better tasting end product. Stir in the sugar until it is fully dissolved, and mix in your juices and spirits thoroughly.
Did you know? – Whilst traditional Sangria primarily uses red wine and brandy, you can use pretty much any type of wine and any spirit you like. Why not try rum and sparkling white wine (Prosecco/Cava/Champagne) or vodka and still white wine?
Sugar and spice and everything nice
Now comes the best bit: adding your preferred flavours.
First, quickly stir your sugar/juice mixture then introduce your ready-prepared mix of fruits and/or vegetables and spices. You can use any fruit you like, so experiment and have some fun. Once the fruit has been added, cover and return to the fridge for another 2-4 hours
The mid-season finale
Like any decent process, you need to check your progress half way through, so this step it designed to allow you to do just that. Remove the Sangria from the fridge, stir it extremely well to make sure the Sangria ingredients are combining well, and then cover and put back in the fridge for one final time (again for around 2-4 hours).
Did you know? – The best tasting Sangria can sometimes involve leaving the mixture in a fridge overnight to allow the fruit to settle into the alcohol, creating deeper, more meaningful flavours in the mixture.
As cold as ice
By now you should have a large bowl/container/pitcher full of a very fruity and alcohol-laced chilled liquid. But it doesn’t stop there. You need to stir thoroughly before serving and have your carbonated mixer on hand (if you’re using one – you don’t have to!). If serving straight away, then ice isn’t necessary. But have a bag or two ready in case it’s a particularly hot day (or you plan on leaving it out all evening).
Service with a smile
To serve, half fill a glass with ice, then top up with your chosen sparkling mixer!
Prosecco/champagne or lemonade make great mixers, but feel free to try any sparkling mixer you want. I find orange soda works particularly well.
This 5 step guide is genuinely all you need to produce party-popping Sangria mixes every time. You can make non-alcoholic Sangria using the same ingredients as detailed above. Whether alcoholic or not, your Sangria will be the envy of all your friends and before you know it, they’ll all be after your recipe.
Since it’s taken you nearly an entire day to create this masterpiece on your table, respect it and take every opportunity to enjoy every scent and sip. Did I mention it’ll keep, in a sealed container, for up to 24-48 hours depending on the fruit/juice used?
And, as I don my Etiquette hat for a small moment; A good host always remembers to be responsible when serving/consuming alcohol, and will check thoroughly that no one is allergic to the fruits/vegetables being used.
One Last Thought
I love to take the slower, more traveled path when creating a great cocktail. I’ll go out and buy ingredients to make my own infused syrups rather than buying pre-prepared, lower quality products. This process scales elegantly in mixtures such as Sangria. Of course you can create a decent version in a couple of hours; but to really blow your guests away, use fresh juice, locally sourced ingredients, maybe something a little less known, and of course take your time preparing it. You should always treat Sangria like a joint of meat in a marinade – allow plenty of time for the flavour to develop.
Stay tuned for next time – I’ll have something a little seasonal once more, in the form of a very well known and historically charged topic: London Dry Gin.
Although you might think ‘Kiwi = New Zealand’ but this cocktail is surprisingly versatile. It is primarily a summer cocktail, yes, but it works so well for those chilly autumn evenings or calm spring days, even on family afternoons during the winter; this cocktail is fantastically versatile and to prove that here are some great examples of themed events you could use it at…
Of course you can use it at Weddings, birthdays and other celebratory events, but more so; the tropical elements in this cocktail allow for the use in any of the following themes:
– Beach Party
– Garden Parties
Kiwi Kutee Cocktail Recipe:
(2 measures) 30ml Lime Juice
(3 measures) 45ml light rum
(2 measures) 30ml Pineapple Juice
(6 measures) 90ml Guava Juice
(2 measures) 30g freshly chopped guava
(1 measures) 1 whole kiwi (skinned & diced)
1) Blend all the ingredients until smooth.
2) Pour into a tall glass filled with crushed ice.
3) Garnish with a Lime & Kiwi wheel.
Top tip: This cocktail is perfect for scaling up to pitcher (punch bowl) sizes… The best way to do this is to use the above recipe but look at 15ml as 1 measure, so use the ‘measures’ above to create your perfect pitcher…
This cocktail is rather light on alcohol, but tastes amazing. The guava gives it a real fruity overtone, blending with the soft rum flavours. The pineapple juice adds a little tang, the Kiwi adds its nicely balanced sweet & sour mix and the lime juice ties it all together.
Really this cocktail is perfect for those chilly summer evenings, but resilient enough for any time of the year. You can make it for your close friends during the Sunday football sessions or for your girls instead of a wine evening… But if you ever want to relive those summer afternoons on the veranda this has to be the cocktail for you…
Now anyone who has read my Cuba Libre post (or seen any of the status updates on my Facebook page) will verify this: I LOVE RUM! My 2 favourite rum cocktails of all time (ever) are; 1) The Cuba Libre, 2) Dark N’ Stormy… I’ve placed the DNS as the number 1 (without a doubt) but the Cuba Libre only made it to number 3… Scroll down to find out why…
10. Twisted Lemon Mojito
60ml White Rum
15ml sugar syrup
1 lime (chunked/quartered)
8 mint leaves
20ml Lemon Juice
Top up Lemonade
Place the mint leaves in the bottom of the serving glass and place the lime pieces on top of the lime (skin-side up). Pour in the sugar syrup and gently muddle the ingredients (be careful not to tear the mint leaves as the drink will become bitter, you just want to loosen the oils from the leaves). Pour in the rum and stir very gently. Fill the glass with crushed ice and top up with the lemon juice and lemonade. Stir to mix up the drink one last time. Garnish with a lime wedge and mint sprig. Serve with 2 straws.
9. Perfect Storm
1 Vanilla Bean
½ cup Caster Sugar
30ml Ginger Ale
45ml Apple Cider
60ml Dark Rum
Mix together the rum, cider and ginger ale and pour into a vanilla sugar rimmed glass (filled with ice). Garnish with half the vanilla bean.
8. (Classic) Mai Tai
30ml Golden (light) Rum
30ml Dark Rum
15ml Orange Curacao (although a clear triple sec will suffice)
10ml sugar syrup
15ml almond (orgeat) syrup
Juice of one medium sized lime
Combine and shake all the above ingredients over ice. Shake until the metal of the shaker is well iced. Strain into a rocks glass (over crushed ice if you prefer) and garnish with a combination of the following: Lime wedges, pineapple wedges, maraschino cherries & Orange twirls.
7. Classic Daiquiri
60ml White Rum
20ml fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar syrup
1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur (optional)
Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into a cocktail glass (martini). Garnish with a thin slice of lime/lime twirl.
6. Pineapple & Mango Rum Cocktails
2 ½ small ripe mangoes, peeled & cubed (1/2 mango sliced length-ways and with the skin left on),
120ml Appleton estate golden rum
120ml cup fresh mineral water
1L Fresh Pineapple Juice
Fresh tropical/exotic fruit for garnish (Dragon Fruit, Star Fruit, Papaya, Physalis etc)
Puree the mangoes, rum and mineral water and pour 120ml of puree into each glass. Top up the glasses with ice and pour over the pineapple juice (fill the glass). Garnish with the mango slices and tropical/exotic fruit (add some flowers to make the drinks look a bit more tropical).
5. Classic Caribbean Mojito
60ml White rum
15ml sugar syrup
1 Lime (chunked/quartered)
8 Mint leaves
Top up Soda Water
Same preparation as no.10; Use as little or as much mint/lime as you prefer but no less than 1 lime worth of chunks/quarters. Top up with soda water instead of lemonade.
Top tip: for a hit of flavour, add 1-2 pieces (more for small berries) of your chosen fruit into the shaker and shake with the rest of the ingredients (various amounts of fresh juice will also work – although slightly dilute the overall strength of the drink).
4. Classic Pina Colada
500ml Fresh Pineapple Juice
180ml creamed coconut (tinned is ok)
250ml Golden (light) Rum
750ml crushed ice
Garnish: 4 lime twirls & 4 pineapple spears
Blend all of the ingredients (except the garnishes) and blend for about 1 minute. Pour into hurricane glasses and drop in the pineapple spears. Wipe a lime twirl around the rim of each glass and drop it into the drink to finish. Serve immediately with straws.
Top tip: Choose nicely flavoured golden rums; Brugal Anejo or Bacardi Gold are great choices. For an added touch of class use Angostura 1919 rum. Also if you fancy a splash of heat, use a spiced rum and drop in 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger juice just before you blend., It’ll be subtle but worth the underlying heat.
3. A Very Cuban, Cuba Libre (aka the Cuban)
50ml Havana Club 3yo Rum
Top up Coca Cola
Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in the rum and squeeze in half a limes worth of juice (less if you prefer), and top up with coca cola (original – all the others distort the classic taste).
2. Jamaican Mule
50ml Jamaican Rum
Top up Ginger Beer
Over crushed ice, pour in the rum and top up with the ginger beer. Garnish with the lime wedge (giving the drinker the choice of adding it to the drink – personally I add 25ml lime juice in, but that’s just me!).
1. Bermudan Dark N’ Stormy
50ml Black Rum
12.5ml Fresh Lime Juice
25ml Falernum (Bermudan alcoholic sugar syrup)
Top up with Ginger Ale
‘Goslings Black Seal’ is the rum normally used in this cocktail, but it is hard to find here in the UK. For an easy to find alternative try my personal favourite: ‘The Kraken Black Spiced Rum’ it’s gentle heat and subtle caramel/molasses flavours work very well with the ginger ale.
To make this delicious cocktail the traditional way, build in an ice filled glass the ginger ale, then add a shaken mix of the falernum syrup, lime juice and rum. Stir if you want but the drink should look like the picture above if you do it right…
Top Tip: For an added hit of fresh heat try adding a couple of teaspoons of fresh pressed ginger juice.