Build Your Own Sangria

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It was long and sort of fun and sort of really painful, but let's face it, Summer is fucking over. We can say goodbye to fruit flies, weekday block parties and $5 tomatoes going bad the next day. Now let's brace ourselves for 6 p.m. sunsets, pumpkin spice latte overdoses and being like “ughhh, there are at least three other dudes at this fucking happy hour right now with the exact same flannel as me.”

And while some New Yorkers will fondly reminisce on a summer spent laying hungover on the beach with an iced coffee, mine was defined by a different beverage: gin and tonic. And a different–but equally kind of weird smelling–destination: the dog park.

I would leave work mid-afternoon after a 10-hour shift exhausted and covered in a nice sweat/flour/olive oil crust, sit down on the couch and eat lunch. After that, it would have been the perfect opportunity for a nap–or at the very least some boring and mind-numbing internetting–if it weren't for our new little puppy Frankie simultaneously licking said flour off of my face, terrorizing his squeaky toys and barking at his leash.

I need a fucking drink.

But he needs a walk.

But I need a drink. hmmm..

There's a place down the street where Frankie can get all the exercise he wants and I don't have to move a fucking muscle. And so most of my happy hours were spent sitting on a broken bench at the dog park, sipping a gin and tonic out of a mason jar tucked inside one of those Urban Outfitters tote bags and reading bread recipes or maybe just sticking my phone in an open book to hide the fact that I was actually scrolling through Instagram photos of my friends having ToTaLly CrAzY sUmMeR fUn.

Oh, cool, you're in the rain room. Oh, cool, you went sailing. Oh, cool, you're DJing at a pool party on a roof. OH, COOL, YOUR BAND IS ON TOUR WITH THE FUCKING BREEDERS.

Well I just picked up puggle shit, jealous??

And the gin kept flowing. I bought one bottle, then my sister/roommate (who hates gin) got a free bottle from work, then her friend from out of town left a bottle here. The stars had aligned for me. Things were good. Really good. My phone actually autocorrected financially to gin and tonic. I'm serious.

But then on Labor Day weekend I went to a real happy hour with real people with two legs and there it was on the drink specials list: sangria.

My jaw hit the floor. Holy shit, I went all summer without drinking sangria. What the fuck had I done?! What was I thinking?!!

Sure, I muddled plenty of fruit in those gin and tonics, but I had totally spaced on some of the best summer boozing. The next weekend I made a pitcher of it, then again the weekend after that, but it was too late. Summer was practically over. I was hopeless.

Or so I thought.

Why couldn't I make sangria during the fall? There's plenty of seasonal fruit to mix in there–it's not like I was using local citrus anyways. Fall spices are great with red wine, right? So fuck it. I did some research and came up with this fall sangria check list of sorts that will have you mixing and matching and drinking well into the first frost.

serves: 1

Necessary boozes
1 bottle red wine
2/3 cup juice (see suggestions below)
1/2 cup brandy
1/4 cup triple sec

Pretty much necessary citrus
a couple oranges (fyi, blood oranges are magical in sangria)
1 lemon
1 lime

apple cider (hard cider? yes. hard pumpkin cider? YES)
ginger ale
fall fruit juice (cranberry, concord grape, etc. sparkling if possible)

concord grapes
honey crisp apples

vanilla bean
star anise
chai tea bag
pumpkin pie spice

maple syrup

Slice the fruit into bite size pieces. Mix the liquids, spices and sweetener, stir until dissolved then add fruit and let steep as long as you can stand to wait, a couple hours is good enough. If you're using a sparkling cider/juice/ginger ale, add that in right before serving so it doesn't lose it's carbonation.

Serve warm if all your cardigans are at the laundry or cold if your reading spot is right next to the radiator or room temperature if you're not sure. Don't worry, it's all good.

Use whatever sugar you prefer, but I like a sweetener with a richer flavor, especially this time of year. Like a fruity sangria? Add more of the fruits. Like a spicy sangria? Add more of the spices. Or mix and match until you find the sangria that is totally you.