Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Other Cocktails

Game Day Sangria

Two Mason jar mugs filled with peachy-hued sangria, ice, and citrus wheels
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Becky Hardin

Whether you’re a sports fan or not, there’s 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 for a large-format cocktail to go with the large-format event, Game Day Sangria is the answer.

“Being a lower-ABV drink, Sangria is great for day drinking during a game,” says Laura Newman, who co-owns and co-manages Queen’s Park and Neon Moon alongside partner Larry Townley in Birmingham, Alabama. “It lends itself to batching, so if you’re hosting a group you can spend more time entertaining your guests—and watching the game—instead of making tons of cocktails.” Besides, it would almost be weird to make a single-serving Sangria—while we can’t pinpoint the exact origin of this internationally-beloved punch, we do know that it’s been around for centuries and has generally been served to a crowd.

The term “game day” can refer to a variety of different sports throughout the year, and although the Game Day Sangria recipe features flavors associated most closely with the fall season (read: football season), apple is an ingredient that shines 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.

Cocktails that are this simple and straightforward in their build often serve as a great canvas for experimentation. The virtues of this Sangria in its natural low-alcohol form are plentiful, but for those who prefer theirs with a more spirited base, you can easily fortify it using a number of different liquors—many traditional recipes call for brandy, which helps in creating complexity and will generally amplify fruity notes. Vodka, for example, will increase ABV without imparting any distinct flavor, and rum (in its many different forms) is known to incorporate notes like vanilla, brown sugar, dried fruits and baking spices while adding to the drink’s depth. At the end of the day, most recipes can be tweaked to your liking, but the Game Day Sangria is a particularly great template with lots of room for customization. All the more reason to make a few test batches before the big game.

Ingredients

  • 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
  • Garnish: apple slices
  • Garnish: lemon wheels

Steps

  1. Combine the apple cider or juice, white wine, hard cider, ginger ale, lemon juice, apple slices and lemon wheels in a large pitcher or punch bowl; reserve some lemon wheels and apple slices for garnishing.

  2. Serve in a Mason jar over ice with a reusable straw.

  3. Garnish individual servings with additional lemon wheels and apple slices.