This fragrant Apple Cider Sangria is a beautiful cocktail that’s perfect for fall. Serve this seasonal crowd pleaser at your next holiday party! White wine, brandy, orange juice, and cinnamon compliment without overpowering the apple cider, while apples and pears offer that signature sangria fruitiness. Frozen cranberries add color and keep your drink chilled!
We’ve still got some time until the holidays, but it’s hard not to start considering all of the possibilities for party recipes. My favorite seasonal ingredients are appearing everywhere!
When I recently got my hands on some apple cider, I immediately knew I wanted to make a cocktail. I also happened to have apples, pears and oranges in my possession. The answer was obviously apple cider sangria.
My goal with this recipe was to make sure that above all else, apple cider was the star of the show. I didn’t want it to taste like white sangria with a hint of cider. I wanted anyone drinking it to know that it was an apple cider sangria without explanation.
Apple Cider Sangria Tips
- Don’t make this at the last second. The longer the fruit and cinnamon sticks have a change to mingle with the other ingredients, the better! If you’re in a pinch, you can get away with making this an hour before serving. However, I recommend letting the ingredients chill for at least 4-8 hours, or up to 24 hours.
- If you don’t like brandy, you could swap in an orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau.
- I’ve used Pinot Grigio because it often has notes of apple and pear. If you can’t find or don’t like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc would be a good substitute.
- If you happen to have an apple brandy such as Calvados, use that! I wouldn’t buy it specifically for this recipe, though, because it won’t make enough of a difference to justify the cost.
- Want to take things a step further? Rim the glass! Rub an orange wedge around the top of the glass, then dip it in cinnamon-sugar.
How Long Does Sangria Last in the Refrigerator?
While the sangria would technically take awhile to go bad, wine becomes vinegar somewhat quickly after it’s exposed to air. Apples and pears also break down and oxidize. I wouldn’t make this more than 24 hours in advance, and I would try to finish it within 3 days.
More Holiday Drinks
Do you love to entertain during the holiday season? If so, you might want to check out some of my other holiday cocktails and drinks! This cranberry margarita is always a hit with guests. And when the weather cools down, you’ll love this hot buttered bourbon.
If you’re looking for a drink where alcohol is optional, try my white hot chocolate! It’s wonderful on its own, but also tastes heavenly with a cream liqueur like Baileys, Kahlua or Rumchata. Bourbon is also a great choice if you don’t want to add extra sweetness.
Apple Cider Sangria
- 4 - 5 cups apple cider, to taste
- 1 (750-ml) bottle Pinot Grigio (see notes)
- 1/4 cup brandy (see notes)
- 1/4 cup orange juice, preferably fresh squeezed (1-2 medium oranges)
- 2 cups diced apples, 1/2-inch dice
- 2 cups diced pears, 1/2-inch dice
- 2 cups orange segments (optional; see notes)
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 - 2 cups frozen cranberries (see notes)
- Optional: cinnamon sticks for garnishing glasses
- In a large pitcher, combine 4 cups of apple cider along with the Pinot Grigio, brandy, orange juice, apples, pears, orange segments (if using), and cinnamon sticks. Taste; add the remaining cup of apple cider if you want a more prominent cider flavor.
- Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours before serving to give the flavors a chance to mingle. (I recommend at least 4 hours, if possible).
- Before serving, add the frozen cranberries to the pitcher (start with 1 cup; add more if desired). Garnish glasses with cinnamon sticks, if using.
Regular brandy works fine here, but if you want to be fancy you can use an apple brandy like Calvados. There are so many flavors in this drink that it might get lost, though, so I wouldn’t buy a bottle just for this recipe.
I like using frozen cranberries in place of ice, so you can either purchase them from the frozen aisle of your grocery store, or purchase them fresh and freeze before serve (or use them in addition to regular ice cubes)
I ultimately didn't use the orange segments because there was already enough fruit, but they would be delicious. If you use them, I recommend reducing the fruit to 1 1/2 cups each of apples, pears and orange segments. This will prevent the fruit from overwhelming the liquid.
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