A perfect fall sangria, this Pumpkin Sangria with Bourbon features bourbon-soaked "fruit and booze" (apple and pear), a bottle of chardonnay with toasted vanilla notes, and bright, bubbly ginger beer. You may want to carry this delicious sangria through the holidays and beyond... It's that good!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - Recipe Inspiration
Whenever I make a pitcher of sangria, I find myself reminiscing about a lovely fall evening on our balcony overlooking the Organ Mountains in Las Cruces, New Mexico over a decade ago. My sister was visiting from California, and some of our kids were over. Our second son was a bartender, and he got creative with the sangria. It had a plethora of "fruit and booze," and we did fine until we finished the pitcher and decided to eat all the brandy-soaked fruit. Yee haw! It was so delicious, but it was too much!
Years later, the "fruit and booze" still brings a chuckle. When I started brainstorming ideas for a fall sangria recipe, I really wanted to do something just a little different. Apples and cider are pretty typical in a fall sangria, but I didn't see a lot of pumpkin-themed recipes. I am not a fan of "pumpkin spiced" everything, but I make homemade pumpkin butter that is easy and quite amazing. I want to taste the pumpkin along with the spice!
So, how did the bourbon end up in the mix? The vanilla flavor notes in bourbon just seemed like a perfect pairing with warm spices, pumpkin, and fall fruit like pear and apple. And what better way to top off the glass than with a couple of ounces of good ginger beer?
If you're looking for a new cocktail recipe that's easy to make for a gathering, you need to give this pumpkin sangria with bourbon a try!
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- fruit - I used seasonal fall fruits (pear and apple), but you can get creative with the fruit!
- bourbon - While I never suggest reaching for spirits on the bottom shelf for sangria, you do want to use a solid bourbon. I chose one that I know has vanilla flavor notes as I love to layer flavors. Evan Williams is the bourbon we keep on hand for mixing, and it's great.
- chardonnay - Again, I'm not using expensive ingredients in this sangria. The Dark Horse Buttery Chardonnay is about $11.00 a bottle.
- ginger beer - While I was testing this sangria recipe, we tried Fever Tree ginger beer, and Reed's sugar free ginger beer. Both are non-alcoholic. We have used Bundaberg ginger beer in my pumpkin Kentucky mule. They're all very good, but the spicy Reed's was our favorite! If you want to add more alcohol 😳 Crabbie's ginger beer is delicious. I've definitely used it (and love it), but we're trying to reduce alcohol and calories, so I go for the no sugar/no alcohol Reed's ginger beer.
- garnishes - As you can see in the photos, I chose to garnish the sangria with rosemary sprigs (from my garden), cinnamon sticks, and slices of cara cara orange. We love the hint of fresh citrus!
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Make the "fruit and booze" - Prepare your fruit. I used honeycrisp apples and red anjou pears. Choose the best quality available. Barely ripe or slightly under-ripe pears are best because they hold together better. Small dice or thin slices work best to maximize surface to bourbon ratio and allow it to macerate better. Add the bourbon. Macerate 1 to 3 hours.
NOTE: If the fruit is not covered, stir occasionally. The fruit does not have to be covered.
Prepare the pitcher of sangria - Strain the fruit from the bourbon, and set aside the fruit. Pour the bourbon into the pitcher, add the pumpkin butter, and stir to combine. Next, pour in the chilled bottle of chardonnay. Stir. Lastly, use a spoon to add the fruit (to avoid a mess!). Give it another stir. Chill until ready to serve.
Hint: Thoroughly chill all ingredients prior to making the sangria! 1 to 2 hours is ideal!
Serve the sangria - Add ice to glasses (I use a single large cube to minimize dilution). Fill glasses about ¾ full, top off with ginger beer. Give it all a little stir, and garnish as desired. Cheers!
Cheap wine makes bad sangria! You don't need "top shelf" ingredients, but you should only use fresh, high-quality, ripe fruit, decent bourbon, decent chardonnay, good pumpkin butter, and good ginger beer if you want GREAT PUMPKIN SANGRIA!
Thoroughly chill all ingredients before serving. This will help reduce the amount of ice needed. Ice dilutes cocktails!
The fruit doesn't need to be covered with bourbon. If you want a less boozy sangria, use less bourbon. Stir frequently as it macerates.
It is important to keep the sangria separate from the ginger beer, especially if you might want to drink it later.
Fruit that hangs out in spirits too long gets mushy. I suggest 1 to 3 hours. Overnight will be fine for the apples, but the pears may break down. Once the sangria (sans ginger beer) is combined, another 1-2 hours in the refrigerator is perfect!
While I think the ingredients in this fall sangria recipe are perfect "as is," we all have ingredients we don't like or can't find. Here are some ideas for substitutions:
- fruit - Instead of apples and pears, try figs, pomegranate arils, kumquats, and persimmons. Fuyu persimmons are the softer, sweeter variety, and more suited to a sangria.
- bourbon - While the vanilla flavor notes in the bourbon are great in this sangria, it isn't your only option. Brandy immediately comes to mind for a fall-appropriate sangria. If you don't want a "boozy" sangria, try a good apple cider or additional wine to macerate the fruit.
- chardonnay - Again, the vanilla flavor notes in a buttery, oaked chardonnay inspired this sangria recipe. Substitute another wine that won't compete with the spices and bourbon. A pinot gris would probably work.
- ginger beer - Ginger ale will work, but the ginger may not be a noticeable component.
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Autumn is a little bit of a "pipe dream" in south Texas, but one can dream! We're enjoying this fall sangria regardless! I hope you'll give it a try!