Boy am I cutting this one close. By now you’ve probably already spent more than enough time with your Uncle Billy or Aunt Jane, right? Sure, that store-bought eggnogg does the trick if it’s loaded with brandy, but after a while all that egg yolk and cream starts to really get the tummy sloshin’, not to mention the slurs and inappropriate comments you might blurt out from drinking said ‘nog.
And believe-you-me, I’m not here to tell you to act any differently. It wouldn’t be the holidays without a drunken blowout or a few comments that leave your relatives feeling just a wee bit uncomfortable. Don’t worry – the great thing about relatives is that they have to love you, even if they don’t want to. And when you open up that hand-made sweater that’s a few sizes too big or perhaps the 2009 cat calendar, you won’t feel the slightest bit bad about those comments anyway :).
So, before ol’ Saint Nick comes down the chimney, let’s kick it up another notch or two, alright? I have just the drink that will do the trick – sangria. And not just any sangria because that wouldn’t quite fit the wintry mood, but spiced sangria. Consider it apple cider’s trendier cousin or something.
Whip it up, sit back and let the drama unfold, just like magic.
Not to worry if you’re lacking some of these ingredients – it’s an extremely forgiving recipe. Even the OJ isn’t a necessity. I’ve added all sorts of fruit juices (and even left them out altogether and doubled up on the brandy club soda). The fruit? Sure, you could live without that too, if you must. But without it, you can’t class it up by picking apples slices outta the pitcher and sucking the wine out :(.
1 bottle red wine (I use Yellow Tail Cab/Shiraz blend)
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 t black peppercorns
2-3 whole cloves
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c orange juice
1/2 c brandy (white rum works too, even sake if there’s an open bottle in the fridge)
1-2 oranges, sliced thinly
1-2 apples, sliced thinly
any other fruit you have, if desired, save some for garnishing
club soda or citrus soda (Sprite or 7-up)
In a pitcher, pour wine (save 1 cup), OJ, and brandy. Add fruit and refrigerate. Can be done well in advance.
In a small saucepan, combine 1 c wine, spices, and sugar. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and let cool, then add to pitcher and keep refrigerated.
Immediately before serving, add club soda to taste (~2 c). Pour into wine glasses & garnish with a fresh fruit slice.