Apple Cider Sangria

Happy Halloween! November is coming… That means simmering soups, roasting turkeys, prepping for Christmas, and VOTING. Seriously people – go VOTE. Looking for last minute voting info before the big day? Head to Vote Save America to learn more about the ballot in your state.

Now, listen up. The looming election has about as much spookiness and horror that I can handle this year, so this is not a special Halloween post. Can you keep a secret? I hate Halloween. I am terrified of my own shadow on a bright, sunny August day. Add some rolling fog, scary masks, and people jumping out of bushes? NOPE. I will gladly hand out candy to children on my very brightly lit front porch and ohhh and ahhh over their costumes – but that is the extent of my Halloween participation. Tonight, I am putting on my comfy cozies, striking up a “one for you, one for me” deal in the candy bowl, and sipping some of this apple cider sangria from my not-so-discreet travel mug.

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I love sangria. I seriously LOOOOVE it. I got hooked on this fruity concoction while living in Spain during the winter months so my favorite sangria is always made with red wine. This fall version is trashed up with some fresh apple cider, oranges, cinnamon, maple syrup, pomegranate and Grand Marnier for an extra kick in the pants.

The only reason I don’t make sangria on the reg is that it requires patience. REAL patience – not “oh this needs to sit for 30 minutes? Cool, it’s been 10 so let’s drink” kind of patience. I think a great sangria needs a solid 4-6 hours to marinate and get all spiced up. So prepare in advance! Think ahead! Don’t decide you want sangria at 5pm when your friends are coming over at 6pm.

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I also am not picky on the type of red wine for my sangria. I grabbed whatever red I had on hand, which ended up being a red blend, and used that here. The only “rule” that I have is that the wine needs to be the drier side. You are adding sugar with the fruit and cider and syrup, so keep the wine dry.

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To feel EXTRA festive (for fall of course, not Halloween…) I added a cinnamon sugar rim and some blood oranges to this version. I may have let out a little squeal in the store yesterday when I saw the blood oranges out. They are so juicy and gorgeous in desserts and cocktails – so expect some more blood orange love in the coming weeks!

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Now go forth and participate in democracy and reward yourself with some apple cider sangria! Happy fall ya’ll ūüôā


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Total Time: 5 minutes prep, 4-6 hours total

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cups apple cider (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup Grand Marnier
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 2 apples, sliced
  • 1 orange
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 4 sticks cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • Cinnamon sugar for rim
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Thinly slice apples and place in large pitcher. Slice 1/2 orange and one blood orange into  rounds and add to pitcher. Save a few slices to garnish if you wish. Juice remaining half of orange and second blood orange into pitcher. Add cinnamon sticks and pomegranate arils (save some for garnish!). Pour in apple cider, maple syrup, Grand Marnier, and red wine. Stir to combine and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

To garnish, use a slice of orange to wet the rim of the glass and roll into cinnamon sugar mixture. Add cubed ice to glass and pour in sangria! Top with fresh pomegranate arils. You can also add some fresh cut fruit if you want, but I like to just make sure every glass has some juicy sangria-fruit for everyone to munch on after. Nothing better than a boozy apple slice to top off your drink!

 

Spiked Almond Milk Chai Lattes

Happy hump day! We have had such a busy week that it feels like we should at least be to 3pm on a Friday. Why isn’t the weekend here yet? My body is feeling that 3pm Friday feelz where it has had ENOUGH of working and craves some weekend lounge time.

As I am not able to move the clocks à la Hermione Granger РI will sip on these spiked almond milk chai lattes to wish the days away until Friday instead. These hot spiked lattes are like a nice hug wrapped in a sweater and hiding under a fleece blanket. Soooooo comforting and warm. You can leave out the rum if you are looking for a breakfast version of this treat Рbut promise you will spike it later, ok? Dark spiced rum is just another beautiful layer of joy in this cup.

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I chose almond milk for these lattes because I think it adds a nice nutty flavor and cow’s milk doesn’t always agree with me, especially in the evening. You can use any milk that you prefer in this recipe! Make your tummy happy.

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The best part about this cocktail is that it all comes together in one pot. You can make this ahead of time (add rum just before serving) and keep warm until ready to serve. These cocktails would be great with some molasses cookies or pumpkin pie – any fall treat you are currently craving! If you do make ahead, be sure to remove the spices and tea bags so they don’t over-steep and overpower the latte.

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Speaking of spices… there are some real winners in here. Obviously chai tea bags come with a mix of warming spices already – but I added extra cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, and star anise to pump up the flavor. This recipe is adapted from Toast Magazine so head on over there for even more inspiration!

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Now go perk up with some spiked almond chai lattes and wrap yourself in a blanket until Friday arrives!


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Total Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 2-3 chai tea bags (3 if you want a stronger chai flavor)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 6 ounces dark spiced rum (to taste)
  • Ground cinnamon for garnish

Instructions: Begin by bringing water to a light simmer. Add tea bags (remove any paper tags) and heat on low for 5 minutes. Add spices and continue to steep for 5 more minutes on low heat. Add milk and sugar and increase heat for 2-3 more minutes until very hot.

At this point you can consume as is for a regular chai latte. If you are preparing a large batch for a party, remove all tea bags and spices now and keep warm until read to serve. When you are ready to serve, move to the next step.

Remove from heat and remove tea bags and spices. Add dark spiced rum (please please please do not use light rum). Taste – add more sugar or rum as needed. I add a bit more brown sugar this point after tasting.

Serve in heat proof mugs or glasses and garnish with ground cinnamon. Enjoy!

Adapted from Toast Magazine.

 

Adventures and Spiced Apple Mocktails

Wow! It has been a month since our last post and what a month it has been. I would say I’m sorry for the delay… but I’m definitely not. I put my phone down and thoroughly enjoyed our European vacation like no other vacation of my life. I went through a Twitter detox and seriously came out fresher and happier on the other side. I had a brief moment of FOMO when I dove back in, but stopped myself from the constant scroll to catch up. Instead, I have been constantly scrolling through all of our photos from the trip!

I want to share a few memories with you all from our trip, alcohol-focused of course, and then dive in to a mocktail that is getting me through this re-entry into life. Did I mention that I am also on an alcohol and sausage detox? I cannot look at another sausage or glass of beer for at least two more weeks. That is what Oktoberfest does to you apparently! To get through this week of veggies and water consumption, I whipped up a spiced apple and ginger kombucha mocktail. We had a taste of crisp fall weather while in Europe and I am back with full fall intensity. Gimme all the pumpkin, apple, and spiced products ASAP! I don’t care that it is still 80 degrees in NC, I am ready for sweater season.

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Before we get into sweaters and cinnamon sticks and apples, let me tell you about our journey through the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Germany. I won’t tell you the entire story, send me a message if you want the full scoop (I am happy to share all the deets!), but I will share some information about the best places to grab a cold one! This is a booze blog after all.

First Stop – Amsterdam, Netherlands

How does a city become so perfect? Amsterdam is unlike any other city in the world. It has the charm that is inescapable when it is built around canals, yet remains completely modern and bustling with business. And of course the bikes, everyone tells you about the bikes. It is impossible to really understand the magnitude and importance of bikes until you experience it. I am a total failure at riding bikes, which was evident on our ride through wine country in France, so I am not the perfect resident of Amsterdam – but I’d like to be! And what better way to quickly hop between bars than on a bike!

I am going to share two spots with you from Amsterdam, as we were only in town for two nights and saving our drinking for the heavy hitters in Belgium.

  1. Tales and Spirits. This cocktail bar is INCREDIBLE. They are so warm and welcoming and the space is so cozy. We walked in with a group of six just before dinner and they were happy to accommodate us. They recommended drinks based on our preferences and really made us feel at ease. The menu is monstrous, which typically makes me feel inadequate and unprepared for selecting the right drink, but there was no judgement here for taking your time to read through all the options. I ended up with the Body and Soul which includes Sake, plum wine, purple carrot juice, lemongrass syrup, ginger and yuzu juice, and Bittermen’s Hopped grapefruit bitters. I needed a little boost after our 24 hours of traveling and this really hit the spot. dsc08710
  2. The Heineken Experience. Sure – this sounds touristy. But why not?! Heineken is a beer that I overlook here in the states because we have so many amazing local beers, especially here in Raleigh. But I gotta hand it to them, it was wonderfully refreshing after miles of walking and sightseeing. The experience is truly an EXPERIENCE. There is the history and touring of the original brewery and then there is this wild lights and sounds “show” that leads you to your first beer. All in all, you get about two and and a half beers with admission and it was a great two hours spent with friends. They even have a little competition for the best pour at the end. If you are into learning about how beer is made – check it out.¬†img_1841

Second Stop – Bruges, Belgium

Bruges was a dark horse for us on this trip. We had no idea what to expect and after just a day and a half, we were sold. This place is ADORABLE. Restaurants and bars are tucked in tiny little alleyways and they all lead you to this beautiful central square. The chocolate is plentiful and the beer is pumped through the city in underground pipes – what’s not to love! Please see below for all of our beer drinking stops, there were many.

  1. Le Trappiste. This is a bar in a basement cellar and a must-see stop. The beer options are sketched out on the wall in chalk and they are plentiful. There is a special glass for every beer, and this is a great way to try lots of different beers from across the country. dsc09150
  2. Brewery Bourgogne des Flandres. Sure, it’s a mouthful. It is also a gorgeous brewery along the canal with plenty of seating and flights of all of their beer! This was not our favorite beer of the city, but a great option to try lots of different flavors.¬†img_20180921_144851
  3. De Garre. Ok, now listen up. This is the best beer we had in all of Europe. Everything was right. Tucked down a tiny alleyway? Check. Salami, cheese, and mustard? Check. Awesome glassware? Check. Best freaking triple of all time?!?! Check. Go here and order the Triple Van de Garre and you won’t be disappointed. And be careful, three is the limit with these powerful 11%-ers.
  4. Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan. This is the “city beer” of Bruges and what is pumped through the city in underground pipes. This is a family brewery with a beautiful space to spend an afternoon. They have a full menu, so stop here for lunch. We tried a variety of their beers and were pleased with all of them!¬†LRG_DSC08343

Third Stop – Strasbourg/Colmar/Eguisheim, France

You wanna know where the inspiration for Beauty and the Beast came from? Visit Colmar and Eguisheim. These towns are straight out of a fairytale. We spent two nights in Strasbourg and used our full day to visit Colmar and ride bikes to Eguisheim. We had a perfect sunny day and were convinced we died and went straight to wine heaven on this bike trip. Eguisheim has wineries and shops at every turn and we stopped every chance we had. Our favorite stop was this little family owned spot,¬†Vins d’Alsace Joseph Freudenreich. They have a courtyard for drinking and it is so serene. This region is known for Riesling and Gewurztraminer – so try them both!

Final Stop – Munich, Germany

So you know the deal here. Oktoberfest all the way. This was the main reason for the trip and everything else was built around this day. We were ready. We bought our traditional¬†Lederhosen and Dirndls and had a table reservation and practiced for this. It was everything we expected and more. The beer tents are HUGE and the liters are plentiful. Pretzels are everywhere and the half chicken we had for lunch was delicious. Our only mistake, we went a little too hard on the liters a little too early… It would have been great to have more time to see the grounds, but we were laser focused on that tent and then stumbled our way home after we had our fill. We visited the¬†Hacker-Pschorr and¬†L√∂wenbr√§u tent that day. Both were incredible! We also recommend skipping the¬†Hofbr√§uhaus tent at Oktoberfest and making a dinner reservation the night before instead at their full restaurant. That was another wonderful experience itself! Moral of the story – go and do it. It is not overrated, it is worth it.

You made it! You made it all the way through friendcation and to the actual recipe you probably came here for. As you can tell, plenty of alcohol was consumed on this 10-day jaunt through Europe. As a result, this week I am sharing a mocktail recipe to get us back on track and propel us straight into fall.

This spiced apple and ginger kombucha mocktail is as exactly as the name says. I have no brain power left to come up with a clever name, so too bad. The first half of this recipe is just about making a spiced apple cider – so you can stop right there if you want to serve a hot cider. You can add bourbon or brandy and serve warm with a cinnamon stick if you so desire! I was craving something cold and bubbly, so I let my cider cool and then mixed it with ginger kombucha over ice for this fall mocktail. It is still 80 degrees after all…

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Proost!


Spiced Apple and Ginger Kombucha Mocktail

Total Time: 20 minutesdsc00882

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 bottles ginger kombucha
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Start by spicing up your apple cider by adding all ingredients through nutmeg to a saucepan. Heat on stove until simmering and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. You can also serve this cider warm now and top off with bourbon or brandy!

Add cubed ice to glasses. Pour cooled spiced cider about half way up and top with ginger kombucha. Stir and enjoy!