Welcome to Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week's Cocktail, Sangria!

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Welcome to Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week's Cocktail, Sangria!

Join me on the back porch for a glass?

Matthew Hooper

Greetings, Wonketteers! I’m Hooper, your bartender. Summer’s still blazing. And dear Lord, do we need a drink. Let’s make a big pitcher of sangria. I’ve got a plan to crank out as much sangria as you need in no time flat and get back to the party. Here’s the recipe.

Hooper’s Sangria


3 oz Paul Masson VSOP brandy

3 oz simple syrup

2 oz lemon juice

2 oz lime juice

2 oz orange juice

Additional soft fruit as desired, no more than 1 cup (watermelon, apricot, peaches, etc.)

1 bottle Barefoot Red Moscato wine

Cut the soft fruit into chunks. Remove any rind. Add the fruit to a large cocktail shaker tin. Add brandy and simple syrup. Muddle the fruit until broken up, but not paste. Add lemon and lime juice. Shake gently until cold. Strain into a pitcher. Add 1 full bottle of wine. Stir gently. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish each service glass with fruit slices. Serves 4-5.

Sangria, in theory, is a cocktail that dates back to the Roman era. People have been heaving fresh juice and sugar into bad wine forever. In practice, America fell in love with sangria as we know it when it was served at the 1964 World’s Fair. It’s been a summer classic ever since.

Sangria is Spanish in the same way that chop suey is Chinese. It’s not very authentic. Spaniards like cheap low-proof cocktails, like tinto de verano (basically Sprite and red wine). But when customers ask for “real” Spanish sangria, Spanish restaurants are happy to serve what makes the customer happy.

With that in mind, I decided to write a sangria recipe that would make sense in a high-volume commercial bar or restaurant. If sangria was on my menu, I’d probably knock out a bottle of sangria at a time using this technique. Many sangria recipes ask you to macerate the fruit in wine for a day. This technique uses fresh juice and gets immediate results. It also prevents any soggy fruit or loose lemon seeds from lurking in your cocktail. The finished sangria will hold for a day or two in the fridge (assuming you don’t drink it all before then).

The finished sangria clocks in at 9.5% ABV, nearly 20 proof. With the added sugar and drinkability from the wine, it’s easy to overindulge here. Serve this over ice, and make sure you’re settled in for the weekend before downing a few of these. They’re extremely tasty; you’ll drink two before you know it.

Let’s run down the ingredients:


Really, really pretty ingredient shot. The glass of sangria vanished after this photo was taken. The pitcher went back in the fridge, because I'm working tonight.Matthew Hooper


Paul Masson VSOP Brandy: This is extremely cheap brandy, but it works fine in this cocktail. The fruit juice and sugar overwhelm any harshness from the base spirit. A better quality of brandy would make a smoother, richer sangria. I’d also use some nice rum like Mount Gay or my favorite, Plantation Special Dark. You could probably use plain vodka in the cocktail and get away with it, but I like the slightly darker color an aged spirit brings to the drink.

Simple Syrup: 1 part sugar, 1 part water, heat until the sugar melts. A cocktail staple.

Lemon, Lime, and Orange Juice: I always work in measurements, but functionally the amount of juice I’m asking for equals one whole orange, one lemon, and two small limes. Fresh is mandatory. The acid in these juices will break down over time, leaving you with a muddier tasting sangria. Don’t make your bottle more than a day in advance.

Soft fruit: Use your imagination and pick what’s in season. Watermelon, apricots, peaches, and nectarines are all great choices. You don’t have to be exceptionally neat when chunking the fruit. Do remove any bitter pith or rind, however.

Barefoot Red Moscato: This cheap, tart blush wine makes a terrific sangria base. It’s not too sweet, has some nice strawberry jam notes, and provides the right color to make the sangria look appealing. Use your own favorite sweet red wine if you’d like. A dry red will be much too tannic to make an appealing sangria. White sangria is an option too. If you’d prefer a white version, use a dry white wine like Pino Grigio, and substitute vodka for the brandy.

Technique: This is a lot of fluid to shake in a standard 2-part cocktail shaker. I start by building the cocktail in the larger tin, instead of the smaller, to give me room to work.

Muddle the fruit gently. You don’t want to make fruit puree, just mash the fruit a bit to release the juices.

When you shake the cocktail, spin it gently in a circle instead of shaking up and down. Visualize a Ferris wheel spinning away from you and you’ll get the idea. You don’t need to get the cocktail frothy, just make sure everything’s incorporated and aerated.

I keep a bunch of food-safe funnels and swing-top glass bottles for projects like this. Here, they’re worth their weight in gold. Use the funnel to pour the cocktail into an empty glass bottle. Add as much wine as the bottle can hold. Give everything a quick shake and put the bottle in the fridge for later. Easy peasy.

Serve this with ice in smaller wine glasses — it’s fairly potent and goes down very well. Some fresh lemon and lime slices on top are a great idea. The scent of fresh fruit as you drink the sangria is heavenly.

In summary and conclusion, drink well, drink often, and tip your bartender — donate to Wonkette at the link below! Come see me at The Spotted Owl at Tremont! And if you'd like to buy some bar gear or books from Amazon, please click here!

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Matthew Hooper
Matthew Hooper, aka Samurai Grog, turned 50 in 2021 and decided to have a midlife crisis by leaving a boring sales and marketing job to tend bar at the local country club. He's never been happier. He's also a fencer, a dad, a husband, and a punk music fan. Overall, he's way cooler than he ever thought he could be when he was 16. 
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