Whether you’re a sports fan or not, we can all agree that there’s a certain magic to any game day gathering, mainly where the snacks and drinks are concerned. When it comes to the latter, there are usually ice-cold cans involved, but for those looking to step things up with a large-format cocktail, this Game Day Sangria is the answer. We spoke with Birmingham’s reigning cocktail couple Laura Newman and Larry Townley to find out what makes this recipe a consistent crowd pleaser.
“Being a lower-ABV drink, Sangria is great for day drinking during a game,” says Newman, who co-owns and co-manages Birmingham bars Queen’s Park and Neon Moon alongside Townley. “It lends itself to batching, so if you’re a hosting a group you can spend more time entertaining your guests (and watching the game) instead of making tons of cocktails.”
Despite its association with the fall season, apple is a flavor that works (and is readily available) all year long. And, according to Townley, pairing it with ginger is always a sound decision. “Apple and ginger is a classic flavor combo that’s crisp and invigorating,” he shares, adding that while this balanced Sangria recipe keeps the sweetness in check, you can always add a bit of simple syrup to taste. “It’s a sessionable cocktail that you can enjoy responsibly throughout the game.” Plus, Newman adds, it’s a great option for beginners thanks to its quick and easy build.
If you prefer your Sangria with a more spirited base, you can experiment with a number of different liquor categories, depending on what you hope to achieve with the drink’s flavor profile. Vodka will fortify without significantly affecting the overall taste, whereas rum (in its many different forms) is often a great way to incorporate notes like vanilla, brown sugar, dried fruits and baking spices while adding to the cocktail’s depth. Many Sangria recipes call for brandy, which also helps in creating complexity and will generally amplify fruity notes—at the end of the day, most recipes can be tweaked to your liking, but the Game Day Sangria is a particularly great canvas with lots of room for customization. All the more reason to make a few test batches before the big game.
- 32 ounces unfiltered apple cider or apple juice
- 1 bottle dry white wine
- 12 ounces hard apple cider
- 8 ounces ginger ale
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Apple slices
- Lemon wheels
Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher or punch bowl; reserve some lemon wheels and apple slices for garnishing.
Serve in a Mason jar over ice with a reusable straw.
Garnish with additional lemon wheels and apple slices.