OJ's Appalachian Sangria Is A New Classic

The first weekend of May, Great Oak Manor paired me with chef Travis Milton for, "A Taste of Appalachia." In honor of the Kentucky Derby, this private retreat celebrated the food and beverage of the Blue Grass state. For the opening reception, I created a cocktail to compliment chef Milton's Appalachian cuisine. Bourbon, fresh fruit and homemade sweet tea are part of the region's culinary lifeblood, so I dubbed my cocktail, Appalachian Sangria. It's a riff on my original sangria recipe, a classic Iberian beverage, made with wine, brandy and fruit. You make this recipe by the batch, so it's perfect for picnics, parties and family get-togethers. Check out The Liquor Report for a recap of the weekend's festivities and the backstory of how this cocktail came to be.

Appalachian Sangria Ingredients

  • 14 Cups Water
  • 2.5 Cups Demerara Sugar
  • 1 1-Gallon Black Tea Bag (Or 16 Single-Serving Black Tea Bags)
  • 2 750ml Bottles of Low-Proof Bourbon
  • 2 Cups Sliced Strawberries
  • 1 Cup Sliced Black Plums
  • 1 Cup Blueberries

How To Make Appalachian Sangria

  1. Boil water.
  2. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Add tea bag and let steep for 15 minutes.

You can substitute agave syrup for sugar. Be sure to use a timer. If you over-steep the tea, it can taste bitter. After removing the tea bag, let the tea sit and cool. While your tea is cooling, move on to Step 2.

  1. In a pitcher (1 gallon or larger) combine bourbon and all three fruits.
  2. Let sit until tea is cooled, then add 4.25 cups of tea.
  3. Stir gently and refrigerate.
  4. Once chilled, take a few spoonfuls of fruit from the mixture and add to a wine glass, then fill the glass with ice.
  5. Pour mixture until the glass is almost full, and top off with a splash of sweet tea.

Use fresh fruit if you can. Don't use bourbon above 95 proof. You're going to drink a few of these. It's not meant to blow you away with one glass.

Appalachian Sangria Riff

Use fruits that are in season. Plums and berries are great for the spring but during the summer you can substitute peaches, watermelon and apricots. My traditional sangria recipe, using rose wine, is also a winner.

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