Like moths to a flame, we are drawn outside the moment the early spring chill leaves our bones and the sun has officially, and finally, warmed us all the way through. Dinner parties, family get-togethers, and long evenings watching fireflies ensue.
Easy Entertaining With Pitcher Drinks
I’m usually the host of our warm weather escapades. As such, I’ve figured out a few ways to make sure everyone is taken care of—and I have time to relax and enjoy the party.
Large plates of food that taste great at room temperature and serving drinks by the pitcher are a couple of ways I free up my time—they are hands off.
To be fair, this is not traditional sangria, but it speaks to feeling you get when drinking it, and it shares the basic components of the cocktail—wine, liquor, and fruit. Though it won’t feel exactly like sipping sangria in Spain while overlooking an olive grove, you can still take a mental vacation to a breezy place where daydreaming is welcomed and good friends are soon to arrive.
Boozy or Kid-Friendly: Your Choice!
I like to make one drink that can double as a boozy cocktail and a non-alcoholic mocktail, for those who choose not to drink. That way everyone has something special to drink, but I’m not spending all night in the kitchen.
The base components of this strawberry sangria are a lemon basil simple syrup and strawberry puree. Too make it boozy, I add elderflower liquor, such as St. Germain, and prosecco. To make it booze-free, I switch out the elderflower liquor for elderflower syrup, and the wine with club soda. Either way, it tastes delicious and all of my guests feel welcome.
Scale Your Sangria up or Down
Both the simple syrup and the strawberry puree can easily be doubled, or halved, depending on your needs.
The puree can be made a day ahead of time, and the simple syrup up to a week. Store both in the fridge until ready to make your sangria.
Where to Find Ingredients
Use ripe, in-season strawberries for the best strawberry flavor. Elderflower liqueur, a deeply aromatic, floral, and sweet-tasting liqueur made with the flowers of an Elderberry plant, is available at most liquor stores. St. Germain is a widely available brand.
Now all that’s left to do is invite your favorite people over, fill an ice bucket, make a couple of pitchers of drinks, and enjoy the company.
More Summer-Ready Cocktails
Sparkling Strawberry Sangria
Warm weather is meant for friends, family and hours lingering outside with a fresh drink in hand. This light, slightly sweet, strawberry cocktail is easily made with or without booze, and intended to serve a crowd. Just place the pitcher on the table next to a glistening ice bucket, and a tray full of rocks glasses.
To make this drink alcohol-free, replace the elderflower liqueur with elderflower simple syrup, and replace the Prosecco with club soda. Elderflower simple syrup can be found at specialty stores, Ikea, or online.
- 1 lemon
- 2 pounds strawberries, divided
- 3/4 cup sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup packed basil (about 10 large leaves) + more for garnish
- 2 bottles of Prosecco or sparkling wine, chilled
- 1 1/2 cups elderflower liqueur, such as St. Germain
- Club soda (optional)
Zest the lemon:
Use a vegetable peeler to remove strips of lemon skin from the lemon. Don’t dig in too deeply. You only want the yellow outer portion of the skin, leaving most of the white pith on the lemon.
Juice the lemons and measure out 2 tablespoons of juice (save the remaining juice for another use). Set zest aside to make the simple syrup.
Prep and macerate the strawberries:
Slice half of the strawberries (1 pound) into quarters and toss them with 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice in a medium sized bowl.
Set aside on the counter and let macerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours while you make the Basil Simple Syrup.
Make the basil simple syrup:
Combine 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Wait until the sugar is fully dissolved, about 3 to 5 minutes, then remove from heat and add the 1/4 cup of basil. Smash the basil a bit in the pan with a muddler or a potato masher. Add the strips of lemon zest.
Set the simple syrup aside and let it cool to room temperature—about 20 to 30 minutes. The longer you let the herbs and lemon steep the more prominent those flavors will become in the syrup.
Strain the syrup. Toss the basil. Save the lemon zest strips. (This simple syrup can be kept refrigerated for up to a week.)
Puree the strawberries:
Transfer the macerated strawberries and all their juices to a blender or food processor. Puree, then strain the puree. (This puree can be refrigerated for up to a day.
Make the sangria:
From the remaining strawberries, reserve 10 of the smaller strawberries for garnish (slice in half if they seem too large). Hull and slice the remainder.
In a large pitcher, combine the strawberry puree, basil lemon syrup, and elderflower liqueur. Stir to combine. Add two bottles of Prosecco, the sliced strawberries, fresh basil leaves, and the lemon peels from the simple syrup. Stir again.
Serve and garnish:
Pour the sangria into glasses filled with ice, and top with one fresh basil leaf.
For the strawberry garnish, make a small cut down the center of a small strawberry, leaving the stem intact at the top. Slip the strawberry onto the rim of your glass.
Serve as is, or top with club soda to soften the sweetness of the drink or dilute the alcohol content.