Infused with warm seasonal spices and flavors, this Holiday Sangria is the perfect pitcher cocktail recipe for all of your entertaining needs. The prep takes just 15 minutes and it can (and should) be made in advance – one last task to do on party day! Fruity, spiced and seriously sippable, it’s the ultimate Christmas sangria recipe.
Large batch cocktails are perfect for holiday entertaining, and they’re even better when you can make them a day in advance. Stir up a batch of this Spiced Holiday Sangria in advance of your next seasonal gathering – it’s a total crowd-pleaser, packed with festive flavors, and couldn’t be easier to make.
How to Make Christmas Sangria
Seasonally spiced red sangria is the cocktail of the holiday season. It’s fruity and punchy, but also just sophisticated enough – AKA it’s going to make everyone happy! Make a large batch and serve in a punch bowl as the centerpiece of your holiday table.
- Prepare the fruit. Slice one orange into wedges and dice an apple into cubes.
- Place the oranges, apples, and a cup of whole cranberries into a pitcher. Add white sugar to the fruit and use a wooden spoon to gently crush the fruit with the sugar – this is called “muddling” and will help to release some of the juices and natural flavors in the fruits, which will deepen the flavor of the sangria.
- Pour in the liquids – brandy, orange juice, cranberry juice, and red wine. Then add the whole spices – star anise, cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon.
- Stir thoroughly, then transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours, and up to overnight.
Pour over ice and enjoy! This recipe yields 6-8 servings and easily scales up for a crowd.
My Tips for the Very Best Holiday Sangria
- Good sangria is more about the ingredients, less about the methodology. If you use sub-par ingredients, you’ll produce sub-par sangria, so be as choosy as your budget allows. The good news is that you don’t have to be super choosy – a decent red wine and a mid-range brandy won’t break the bank, but will create a seriously sippable cocktail situation.
- Select a dry, mid-priced red wine – grenache is traditional (and what we used) but merlot and pinot noir work well too. Avoid sweet blends unless you prefer a very sweet sangria, and avoid super-tannic wines, as they’re too bitter for sangria. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, pop into your local wine store – the clerk will point you in the right direction!
- Brandy gives sangria body and deepens the flavor, but you don’t need to reach for a premium brand since you’re not sipping it straight. We used The Christian Brothers VSOP – coming in around $12 for a 750ml bottle, it’s a bargain.
- Use fresh spices for superior flavor. If you live close enough to a Whole Foods, Mom’s Organic Market, or an Indian grocer, you can purchase fresh spices from the bulk bins – they make all the difference when it comes to the flavor in a spiced holiday sangria.
- It’s important to chill and marinate the sangria for at least 8 hours – overnight is best. The spices need some time to work their magic, and the longer they can mingle with the liquid, the more flavorful the sangria will be.
- Serve this Christmas sangria in a pitcher for a standard batch, or in a large punch bowl with a ladle for larger batches – it’s the simplest way to serve sangria for a crowd.
More Festive Cocktails
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- Punch Bowl
- 1 orange, sliced into wedges
- 1 apple, cubed
- 1 c cranberries
- ¼ c white sugar
- 1 bottle dry red wine, merlot, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon
- ¾ c brandy
- ½ c orange juice
- ½ c cranberry juice
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 8 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- Add the oranges, apples, cranberries and fruit to a pitcher, along with the sugar. Use a wooden spoon to stir the sugar into the fruit and gently crush it.
- Add wine, brand, orange juice, and cranberry juice to the pitcher; stir until the sugar completely dissolves.
- Add the whole cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks. Stir once more, then chill at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- Pour over ice, top with fruit, and serve.