As you reach for that trusty glass of red wine, it might not occur to you to say, "Hey, I should add this to a cocktail." But you’d be surprised at how well Beaujolais nouveau, merlot or Rioja mingle with bourbon, orange liqueur or apple brandy. From a simple sangria to an unpretentious Kalimotxo––the popular Basque combination of red wine and Coke––a shot of vino can add depth of flavor and color to your cocktail.
Don't let the wine snob in your life tell you that red-wine cocktails are somehow sacrilege. That kind of thinking is passé. A good bottle of red—especially what you might be planning to serve with dinner, anyway—can help shape the flavor profile of your next cocktail.
Va-va-voom! Who said all Sours have to taste the same? This mighty glass augments the classic Whiskey Sour with a spoonful of blueberry jam and sweet maple syrup, then finishes the drink with a float of inky, fruit-forward zinfandel.
Think of the Sangaree as Sangria’s great-grandfather. The main difference is that the old-timey Sangaree encouraged interchangeable bases of port, gin, brandy and ale. This 21st-century version is made with apple brandy and sloe gin, doused with Beaujolais nouveau, maple syrup and bitters.
Are you enjoying mulled wine season to its fullest when it happens? Maybe it’s time you added calvados to your evenings. The French apple brandy gives this comforting mug of Rioja, cinnamon syrup and lemon juice a richness that will warm you to the bone.
You might be tempted to look askance at this low-key combination of red wine and Coca-Cola, but don't. People all over the Basque region of Spain drink this all night and with good reason: It's easy and tasty. A squeeze of lemon helps to brighten the heft. Seeing as there are only two main ingredients here, go for a good Rioja and good Coke (the kind made with real sugar).Continue to 5 of 9 below.
Red wine is versatile as far as cocktail ingredients go. Add bubbles and the possibilities are endless. Take this suave blend of lambrusco (a fizzy red from Italy best enjoyed chilled), Cappelletti aperitivo and Peychaud's bitters. Make this one to sip with snacks before dinner, and serve the rest of the wine with the main course.
Sometimes you don't know if you want to end the night or conjure a second wind. This drink provides options. It's made with Fernet-Branca, crème de cacao, cold brew coffee and vanilla syrup, with a dose of gragnano (a sparkling red similar to lambrusco). A perfect after-dinner sipper that leaves the night open for, well, whatever.
Diamond Claret Cup
If wine can give your cocktail a flavor and mouthfeel boost, then why not double down with two wines? That may be what bartender John Codd was thinking when he created this beauty. A complex blend of raspberry brandy, lemon juice, gum syrup, grenadine and red wine, it is topped with bubbly. Probably the only time you should ever mix red and white.
Margarita variations abound, although there are few ways to perhaps improve on the classic. This one comes pretty darn close with its tasteful red wine float. A little goes a long way––just half an ounce of vino creates a color contrast and a new flavor dimension. The result is an adult take on the original. Pro tip: No salt rim, please.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
Sangria is always a good plan when it comes to holiday parties. There's nothing easier––or more satisfying––than stirring together dry red wine, brandy and a bounty of fresh-cut fruit chunks. Sweetened with sugar and orange juice, sangria by the pitcher lets your guests know they're in for a festive time.