Boxed Wine Pitcher Cocktails: Red Wine, Spiced Apple & Bourbon Cocktail

(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

From a citrus and white wine cocktail to a peppery rosé cocktail, we’ve covered a lot of ground this week, as far as flavor profiles go. We’ve also covered the major boxed wine styles. We’re finishing up our series on boxed wine-based pitcher cocktails with a dark, brooding drink based around a bold, red wine. A fiery touch of bourbon makes this cocktail perfect for both lovers of red sangria and Manhattans.

Red Wine, Spiced Apple & Bourbon Cocktails:
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When I was testing this particular recipe, I was enjoying a spicy grilled pork tenderloin for dinner. I happened upon a perfect pairing. Crafting this cocktail with a rich, red wine brings depth and complexity to this sangria-like punch, making it both a great sipper and a perfect pairing option to a rich and savory course.

(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

I hope this series has expanded your cocktail repertoire — especially when you have a party to plan. Wine is an overlooked mixer, but we’ve seen that it can add complexity, intense flavor, and bright acidity to a cocktail. And the boxed format is convenient, economical, and always fresh.


(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

Red Wine, Spiced Apple & Bourbon Pitcher Cocktail

Serves 8 to 12

For the sage simple syrup:
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup water
5 to 6 sprigs sage

For the orange, cranberry, and sage ice mold:
2 to 3 oranges, sliced
A handful of cranberries
2 to 3 sprigs sage

For the cocktail:
36 ounces bold, red wine (I used Naked Grape Merlot)
12 ounces bourbon (I used Basil Hayden’s)
12 ounces apple juice or cider
3 ounces ginger liqueur (I used Domain de Canton)
3 ounces sage simple syrup
12 ounces chilled Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa, to taste
8 to 12 pieces candied ginger, for garnish

For the sage simple syrup:In a small saucepan, combine the cane sugar, water, and sage sprigs. Bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat and then lower the heat to a slow simmer, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, let steep for at least 10 minutes, discard solids, and let cool completely.

For the orange, cranberry, and sage ice mold:Slice the oranges and place slices in a bowl or casserole dish. Toss in the cranberries and sage sprigs and fill with water. Freeze 24 hours or until solid. When ready to use, run warm water on the underside of the tin to release.

In a large pitcher or punch bowl, combine the red wine, bourbon, apple juice, ginger liqueur, and sage simple syrup. Stir until incorporated and chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to enjoy. You can also make this portion of the cocktail a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator; just give the mixture a good stir before serving.

For the cocktail:When you’re ready to serve the cocktail, fill your pitcher or punch bowl with ice and add the chilled cocktail mixture. Quickly top with the Pellegrino blood orange soda, taste for balance, and give the mixture a gentle stir. Prep individual cocktail glasses with ice, add the finished red wine and bourbon cocktail, and garnish with candied ginger pieces.

Recipe Notes

  • Definitely go for the Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa soda. If you’ve had it before, you’ll know why. It has the best aromas and flavors of any blood orange soda I’ve tried.