3 Deliciously Inventive and Bartender-Approved Sangria Recipes

This summer, you could just throw a ton of chopped fruit all willynilly into a punch bowl with a big ol' bag of Franzia and hope for the best (which may be the move if you intend to day-drink buckets of the stuff without regard to taste) but you can do better, and you should. To get you inspired, here are three classy and creative takes on a traditional sangria recipe courtesy of some badass bartenders from around the country.

Courtesy of Shari’s Berries

Izakaya sangria

This "thirst-quenching and sessionable" recipe was developed by Tin Roof's Claire Sprouse and Chad Arnholt for Izakaya, a Japanese restaurant in Houston. “I really think sake in general and sake-based cocktails are due to be revived from the dark shadows of sake bombs and bad sushi pairings," says Claire.

Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 16-20 servings

  • 2 750-milliliter bottles junmai sake
  • 4 mandarins (or other sweet citrus), wheeled
  • 3 Bartlett pears, sliced
  • 24 ounces brewed ginger-spiced tea*, divided
  • 16 ounces fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 8 ounces pear brandy (like St. George or Clear Creek)
  • Combine pears and mandarins in a glass jar with the sake and add 2 ounces lemon juice (to prevent pears from browning). Let rest for 24 hours.
  • * Prepare tea (store-bought or make a tea from dried ginger root and cloves). Add 16 ounces of tea to the sake-fruit mixture; reserve.
  • Combine the remaining 8 ounces tea with the sugar to create a ginger syrup.
  • Add ginger syrup and pear brandy to the sake-fruit mixture and stir well.
  • Add 8 ounces lemon juice, stirring and adding more to taste.
  • Chill and serve over ice.

War of the Rosés

Chief mixologist Clint Spotleson of the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel says, "I took a lighter approach for the hot Arizona summer by using Encanto pisco as a base and complementing it with Terredora Rosaenovae. I round out the duo with lime, strawberry, rosemary, and orange flavors. I think seasonal with sangrias, and there’s always a way through flavors to communicate how that sangria makes you feel. A heavy red and big aged brandy with minimal citrus will bog you down during beach/ pool season, but it’s great when the snow starts to fall."

Total Time: 10<span> minutes
Yield: 1 serving

  • 1.5 ounces pisco de Encanto
  • 1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand dry Curacao
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce orange juice
  • 1 large strawberry, muddled
  • 1 ounce rosemary syrup
  • 2 ounces Terredora Rosaenovae
  • Shake ingredients briskly, add Rosae, quick roll, and fine-strain into a snifter filled with ice.
  • Garnish with strawberries and a rosemary sprig, and rose petals (optional).
Courtesy of The Bonnie

Garden sangria

For a white sangria, The Bonnie's Mike Di Tota recommends a white boxed wine with a little bit of a bite. "Something like Sauvignon Blanc is good. Dry, and not too round or buttery. You’re going to be adding sweetness to it with the fruit. Stay seasonal -- stone fruit is a particularly good option in the summer. Apple and cucumber is also a nice combination, and adds a bit of color to the white wine. Careful with colorful fruits with a white sangria. Strawberries will turn the mixture pink!"

Total Time: 2 days, unless you prepare ahead
Yield: 12-15 servings

  • 60 ounces boxed wine (something on the drier side)
  • 2 ounces lavender-infused Dolin dry vermouth
    • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle Dolin blanc vermouth
    • 2 ¼ teaspoons lavender flowers
  • Add 3/4 cup of Dolin blanc vermouth & 2 ¼ teaspoons of lavender flowers to a saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil and then simmer for 7 minutes, stirring every 2.
  • Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Add the rest of the bottle of Dolin blanc vermouth in a container, cover, and let steep overnight (should be a purplish color).
  • Strain the next day.
  • Make thyme syrup. Combine sugar and water in saucepan. Stir to dissolve sugar. 
  • Bring simple syrup to boil. Add thyme.
  • Let cool. Strain to remove thyme. Store.