My sister and I were put in charge of the "signature cocktail" at our annual get-together with family friends last Christmas. We wanted a drink that was easily refillable - that didn't require a "bartender" (aka one of us) to stand by the booze and make each drink individually. That's how we landed on a Christmas Sangria.
We created this recipe by cutting and pasting together (and then half-making up) three holiday-esque sangria recipes, which means it is not exact, but the beauty of a big punch like this is it doesn't have to be! Once the essentials are in place, taste test (we're good at that!) and correct to perfection.
Cut into small chunks the following fruit: apple, pear, strawberry, orange and toss into bottom of pitcher or punch bowl.
Add in pomegranate seeds (maybe 1/2 cup) and cranberries (same).
Throw in 3-4 cinnamon sticks, a dash of vanilla extract, and a dash of allspice.
Add red wine to fill container up 2/3 - 3/4 of the way. Note: the wine can be on the cheaper side. We often use Trader Joe's $3 Chuck. Some people like to use Spanish Red Wine, which I've definitely used in sangria recipes before to good results. Point is: save the good stuff for another time; you can get away with cheaper bottles here.
Add 1/2 cup brandy; Add more to taste if you have a really big container.
Let the above mixture sit for up to 4 hours so the flavors mix and infuse properly.
Now comes the simple syrup, which is totally to taste. It will likely need at least 1/2 cup to soften out the red wine, but from there, add in slow increments until you're satisfied.
Final touch: right before serving so as to preserve the bubbles, add a cup (or 2, depending on container size) of either sparkling pomegranate soda (Trader Joe's has this too!) or ginger ale, depending on your preference. A little carbonation lightens up the whole thing nicely.
Serve the first round to your guests over ice (and a confetti swizzle stick, perhaps?). Then leave it to them to get refills so you can make sure everything else at the party is running smoothly!
*images property of Diane Crary