Sangrias are like the ice cream sunday of cocktails. You can throw basically anything you have, like, or want into the mix, and it (almost) always tastes really good. Take roasted strawberries, lime juice, basil, and cucumbers for example, and mix them with rum and wine. Off the bat, it doesn’t sound like it would be too appealing – basil wine? – but oh was I pleasantly surprised – yes.
I wanted to try a new cocktail for mother’s day, and combine a few of my mom’s favorite flavors into a drink that she would like. Spiked strawberry lemonades and white wine spritzers have been her celebratory drinks for quite some time now, so I decided to put my own spin on things and make a sangria!
Traditionally, Chardonnay is used in white sangria, but I don’t like Chardonnay so I used Pino Grigio. Feel free to use the wine that you like. I also added more rum than normal, partially because I knew I wanted to cut the drink with the bubbly seltzer, but also because I really wanted that sharp bite of liquor to pair with the basil. I’ve also seen a lot of recipes with added sugars or syrups, but I also don’t like that. We’re already combining two alcohols here, people…no need to add sugar to the hangover. I mean mix.
Makes about 1.5 gallons of sangria…2 if you include the fruit mixture
-2 pints strawberries
-1 large english cucumber
-1 bunch fresh basil
-2 1.5L bottles of white wine – I used Pino Grigio
-2 (or 3) cups light rum
-2 liters seltzer
-ice to serve
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees…we’re going to cook us up some Sangria! While the oven is heating, wash your strawberries, cut off all stems, and slice them into threes. There’s no real thickness you’re looking for – just try to keep them all about the same size. Spread the strawberries out on a cookie sheet, so that none are overlapping, and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes. You’re looking for the berries to create their own, juicy syrup. Sort of like what you would get if you added sugar to the berries and let them sit a while, but much thicker, and with a REALLY enhanced strawberry flavor.
Confession…the first time I tried roasting strawberries, I ate the entire 2 pints in about one day via a large serving spoon. They’re good.
While the berries are roasting, de-stem and chop your basil, and slice the cucumber. Again, no rhyme or reason to the thickness, just try and keep everything about the same size. I’d say my strawberries and cucumbers were about a quarter of an inch, or slightly bigger, in thickness.
When the strawberries are done, use a rubber spatula to immediately spoon them from the pan, along with the syrup they made, into a glass/ceramic bowl. Be warned, if you don’t do this while the berries are still hot, you’re going to be scraping them from the bottom and won’t be able to harvest any of the syrup, and you’re really going to miss out on that flavor.
When the berries are cool, squeeze the fresh lime juice over top, and stir. Add this mixture to your pitcher, pour over the wine and rum, mix, and let sit in the refrigerator for anywhere from an hour to overnight. About an hour before serving, add the basil and cucumbers – we want them to be an added brightness with a hint of earthiness, and to not be too overwhelming. Serve over ice.
To be honest, it was REALLY hard to photograph this drink for a ton of reasons – time of day, glassware, party commencing without me – and also because the beautiful red roasted berries begin to turn transparent after soaking in the liquor, which does’t look super cute on camera. But trust me, it was gone in a flash, and it was delicious. Next time, I’m thinking I might have guests strain their sangria into their glasses, and use basil, cucumber, strawberry infused ice cubes instead – fancy fancy. I’ll have to make this next time Hayley and I get together – have you seen her beverage posts? Check out our Mixology section, because they are awesome.
How are you treating your mom, or special lady in your life? Let us know, and tag us @whattodowithlemons on Instagram with your creations!