In general, I’m a classicist about sangria. Like most of us, I’ve endured all sorts of disturbing ingredients masquerading as sangria — Sprite, frozen lemonade, coconut rum, basil, a ton of sugar (whhhy) which are all ingredients I’ve pulled from just the first few Google results for sangria — and try not to mess with what’s always worked. But, it turned out, I didn’t have to upend tradition too obnoxiously to make the apple cider sangria of my dreams. For the red wine, I used a dry white. For the brandy, I used an apple brandy or Calvados. Instead of a splash of juice, I used apple cider, which I’d reduced so it would be more concentrated and flavorful. I kept the less traditional Triple Sec in place, because I like the hint of orange, but you can skip it if you are less of a sangria blasphemist . And for the fruit, we used a mix of apples, because like everyone else I bought to many @Costco….
The result was even better than I’d hoped, and apple-y in an adult way: subtle and not terribly sweet. As our kids ran up and down the hallways in an sugar-demonic haze, trick-or-treating through a friend’s building last weekend, we grownups got to sip from glasses of, uh, grown-up candy. (While saving the actual candy-thieving for after they fall asleep, as is our parental privilege, of course.)
Apple Cider Sangria
Makes 1 pitcher (about 1 quart) sangria; definitely double for a crowd
1 cup apple cider (the fresh kind, not the fizzy alcoholic kind)
1 bottle dry white wine
1/4 cup calvados or another apple brandy
1/4 cup Triple sec or another orange liqueur
Mixed colors of apples, diced and tossed with lemon juice to prevent browning
Seltzer, sparkling water or sparkling apple cider to finish
Place the apple cider in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce about 3/4 of the way, until you have approximately 1/4 cup apple cider left; this will take 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into small bowl set over a bowl of ice water and stir; it will cool very quickly this way.
Pour reduced, cooled cider into pitcher. Add wine, apple brandy and triple sec. Add fruit and let sit in the fridge until needed. Add some fizz right before serving; a slotted spoon will help guests hold back the fruit while pouring their glasses, and spoon some on top, if desired.