Sometimes it’s good to revisit the classics when you’re hosting a dinner party. It can be tempting to try and come up with something novel and it can also be tempting to serve multiple courses that are each a spectacle in their own right. Last weekend I had my friend Lela over for her birthday, we had a pitcher of this best ever classic red wine sangria and a big pan of chicken cacciatore (recipe will be coming soon). The food was simple, but effective, and it was so nice to prepare dinner and talk while drinking a few glasses of sangria. I know there are a million recipes out there right now for sangria, and I’ve enjoyed several variations over the summer with all kinds of different additions and flavours. I’ll always return to dependable red wine sangria though, it’s somewhat dangerously drinkable and of course the booze-soaked fruit is a whole other adventure. The most important thing with this recipe is allowing the fruit the opportunity to soak up all the alcohol overnight, if you drink it immediately after you stir everything together you’re really going to miss out on the subtle fruity sweetness that a couple of apples and oranges add to the finished product.
best ever classic red wine sangria:
1 bottle of fairly mellow and very cheap red wine (I like merlot best, anything really spicy or big in flavour will ruin the sangria’s easy drinkability)
1/2 cup brandy (probably something you don’t have lying around, but buy it once and you have it for all the sangrias and classy brandy drinking sessions you want)
1/2 cup Triple Sec or Cointreau (again, buy it once and then make all the fruity drinks you can possible think of)
2 sweet apples, sliced into thin pieces
2 oranges, peel left on and sliced into thin pieces
Fill a large pitcher with the apple and orange slices. Add the red wine, brandy, and Triple Sec or Cointreau and stir to combine. Refrigerate the sangria overnight. When you’re ready to serve it either top the pitcher with plenty of club soda or add the club soda to the glass. Make sure to serve with lots of ice and fruit in the glass.
Much like sangria and speaking of revisiting the classics, Echo & The Bunnymen never fails to put me in an excellent mood.
Echo & The Bunneymen – Lips Like Sugar
When blood oranges are in season I find ways to include them in all sorts of recipes. From salads to chicken dishes to desserts, their musky sweet taste is always welcome in my kitchen. However, it wasn’t until I was making a blood orange variation of Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake that I discovered how perfectly they lend themselves to a basic simple syrup. I had also just finished giving the rosemary bushes outside of my work a “haircut” so I had copious amounts of rosemary lurking in my fridge, and wouldn’t rosemary be the perfect compliment to the flavours of blood orange simple syrup? I have to admit, the entire time I was thinking about this recipe I had a gin cocktail in mind and rosemary just seemed like a natural accent to gin’s juniper berry bite. My very simple cocktail is as follows: 1 part gin + 1 Tbsp. simple syrup shaken over ice and then then topped with sparkling or tonic water, garnish with a sprig of rosemary. If you were feeling extravagant you could add champagne instead of the sparkling or tonic water, making an extra bright French 75.
blood orange and rosemary simple syrup:
3 blood oranges, whole
About 4 cups of water
1 cup of sugar
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- Place the blood oranges in a large pot and pour over the water. Bring to a gentle simmer and continue to cook, uncovered, for 2 hours over very low heat.
- Remove the oranges from the water and either discard or puree whole and freeze for future use in a variation on Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake.
- Add one cup of sugar and the the sprig of rosemary to the blood orange water and boil for a few minutes to let the sugar dissolve completely. Remove from the heat and allow the rosemary to steep for several hours before removing. This simple syrup will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator, use in cocktails or pour over good vanilla ice cream.
Telegram was the first Bjork album I ever owned, I’m fairly positive my 14 year old self had no idea it was an album of Bjork remixes. iTunes created a “Bjork Remixed” playlist today and I realized that with the exception of two songs it was basically Telegram. I feel like this is cheating, but it did give me the chance to hear this version of I Miss You again.
Bjork – I Miss You
This beautiful sunrise coloured cocktail is just the perfect pick-me-up on a Friday after work; it’s pink and sunny yellow and otherwise very much a happy drink. I have also tried substituting tequila for the gin with equally promising and cheerful results. Cin cin!
pomegranate sunrise cocktail:
1 1/2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
1/2 oz. Granada or other pomegranate liquor
1 oz. pomegranate juice
1 oz. orange San Pellegrino or Orangina
Squeeze of lime juice and a wedge for the glass
Pour all of the ingredients over ice in a highball glass, stir gently to combine and garnish with a lime wedge. Alternately, change the measurements as required and make it in a pretty glass jug to serve as a punch for a very lucky crowd.
And listen to something ridiculously fun, something that’s impossible to ignore, something that throws you into the middle of a one lady dance party!
Phoenix – If I Ever Feel Better