The Best Red Wine Cocktails

Last week, we shared nine of our favorite white wine cocktails, including several creative sangria recipes. This week, we continue our wine cocktail journey with some of the best red wine cocktails. We’ve gathered our favorite sangria recipes for the occasion, as well as classics like the Claret Punch and recent inventions like the Tom Haverford cocktail. Be sure to check out the hot red wine cocktails at the end of the list, too.

Classic Sangria

sangria red wine cocktail

Sangria is the classic red wine cocktail, perfect for parties since it’s so easy to make in batches and it’s even better if you make it ahead of time. Our favorite classic sangria recipe comes from Serious Eats and packs serious flavor into this summer drink.

You’ll need:

  • An orange, quartered and sliced
  • A lemon, quartered and sliced
  • Two apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup of brandy
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier (or another orange liqueur)
  • Two 750 ml bottles of red wine, such as a Rioja, Malbec, Merlot, or Shiraz
  • 2 liters of chilled seltzer water or club soda

To make this Classic Sangria:

  • Put the sliced fruit in a large container. Add the lime juice, orange juice, and sugar, then stir to combine.
  • Add the brandy and Grand Marnier and allow the fruit to marinate for 1-4 hours.
  • Pour in the red wine and seltzer water (or club soda). Adjust the sugar to taste.
  • Chill the container of sangria in the fridge and then add ice before serving.

bowl of black, red, and green grapes

Grand Sangria

This Grand Sangria also gets a boost from Grand Marnier, but features a different fruit profile, with lemons, apples, orange juice, and whole grapes. The cinnamon sticks also give it warmth and spice.

You’ll need:

  • ½ cup Grand Marnier
  • 1 cup red or black grapes (seedless)
  • 2 sliced lemons
  • 1 sliced orange
  • 2 apples, one red and one green, cored and sliced into wedges
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • One 750 ml bottle of Merlot, chilled

To prepare Grand Sangria:

  • Combine all the ingredients except the last two in a punch bowl and let the flavors meld for at least one hour.
  • Add the orange juice and wine and stir to combine.
  • Serve over ice.

Ginger-Cardamom Red Wine Sangria

For a red wine sangria off the beaten path, try this Ginger-Cardamom Sangria from Serious Eats. It has a wonderfully warm, spiced flavor profile evocative of mulled wine (except chilled, of course). The heart of this sangria is a beautiful ginger-cardamom syrup, made with fresh ginger juice and cardamom pods.

You’ll need:

  • 1-½ oz peeled ginger root (approximate 4.5 inches)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 20 green cardamom pods
  • 2-¼ cups of red wine (they suggest using a Spanish Tempranillo)
  • 1 cup of fresh orange juice
  • ½ cup, plus 1 tbsp, of sweet vermouth (they recommend Carpano Antica)
  • Chilled club soda or seltzer (optional in this recipe)
  • Candied ginger (optional garnish)

To make the ginger-cardamom syrup:

close up of ginger root and lemons

Fresh ginger juice gives this sangria a unique punch of flavor.

  • First, juice the ginger. You can either use a juiceror an immersion blender, though if you go with the latter, you’ll need to strain the mixture at the end to remove the fibrous bits. You’ll want about 2 tbsp of ginger juice.
  • Combine the ginger juice and the sugar in a sauce pan and warm it over medium heat. Stir and then remove from the heat as soon as the sugar dissolves, being careful not to let it boil.
  • Add the cardamom pods to the ginger mixture, cover the saucepan, and let the mixture cool. Then refrigerate it for 2-10 hours to allow for infusion.

To prepare the sangria:

  • Pour the wine, orange juice, and vermouth into a pitcher. Strain the batch of ginger-cardamom syrup into the pitcher and mix well. You can either serve it right away or chill it a few hours.
  • Serve this sangria in wine glasses filled with ice, topping with seltzer or club soda and garnishing with the candied ginger, if desired.

Green Apple Sangria

This Green Apple Sangria is a tart, fruity favorite at summer parties. It gets a citrusy boost from strips of orange zest, plus fresh orange and lemon juices.

wedges of green apple on a cutting board

Granny smiths are the perfect apple for this Green Apple Sangria.

You’ll need:

  • 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut in to three-quarter inch pieces
  • Zest of one orange, peeled from the fruit with a veggie peeler
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ¾ cup brandy
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup Cointreau
  • One 750 ml bottle of Spanish red wine, such as Tempranillo
  • About 1 cup of club soda
  • Orange slices for garnish

To prepare Green Apple Sangria:

  • Add the apples, orange zest, orange juice, cinnamon sticks, sugar, brandy, lemon juice, and Cointreau to a pitcher and allow it to sit for about an hour. (You can also let it chill in the fridge overnight.)
  • Before serving, stir in the wine. Serve it over ice, topping with club soda and the orange slices for garnish.

Red Sangria with Herbs and Citrus

This gorgeous Red Sangria with Herbs and Citrus brings in the savory fresh flavors of rosemary and thyme, as well as mint and star anise, to compliment the fresh citrus.

fresh sprig of rosemary and half a lemon

Fresh rosemary in sangria? Yes!

You’ll need:

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 10 sprigs of thyme
  • ⅓ cup of rosemary leaves
  • 2 limes
  • At least 2 oranges
  • At least 2 lemons
  • 10 sprigs of mint, with more for garnish
  • At least 4 star anise pods
  • 1-½ cups of brandy
  • ¼ cup of orange liqueur (they recommend Pierre Ferrand dry Curaçao)
  • 2 tbsp sweet vermouth
  • Two chilled 750 ml bottles of red wine

For the wine, they recommend choosing something fruit-forward like a Grenache or Tempranillo.

To make Red Sangria with Herbs and Citrus:

  • First, make the simple syrup by dissolving the sugar in ¾ cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Let it cool before using it.
  • To make the sangria base, put the thyme, rosemary, mint, and 4 star anise pods in a large bowl.
  • Cut the limes, two lemons, and two oranges in half and then into thin slices, removing all the seeds.  Put the citrus slices in the large bowl with the herbs.
  • Add the brandy, orange liqueur, and vermouth to the herb and citrus mixture and chill this base for 4-12 hours. (Longer times are better for melding flavors.)
  • Strain the base into a pitcher of ice, pressing on the solids to get as much juice as possible.
  • Add the wine, 1 cup of simple syrup, and stir well.  Chill this final mixture at least one hour before serving.
  • Serve it over ice, garnishing with more slices of lemon and orange, plus mint sprigs and star anise.

Claret Punch

Claret Punch is another classic red wine cocktail, with recipes dating back to the 1800’s. There are lots of variations, but what makes a Claret Punch is the combination of red wine, sugar, lemon, and some source of carbonation.  Ideally these cocktails are made by the glass, but you can also scale up the recipe and make a large batch.

You’ll need:

  • 3 oz red wine (they recommend using a Bordeaux)
  • ½ oz Sherry
  • ½ oz Triple Sec
  • ¼ oz Maraschino
  • 1 tsp simple syrup
  • ½ oz fresh lemon juice
  • A dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Club soda
  • Garnishes of your choice (mint, cucumber, fruit)

To make a Claret Punch:

  • Combine all the above ingredients except for the club soda in a cocktail tin with ice.
  • Stir until completely chilled and then strain it into an ice-filled punch glass or a highball glass.
  • Garnish! Try it with fresh mint, sliced cucumber, blueberries, or strawberries.

Tom Haverford Cocktail

This brunch cocktail (named for the Parks and Rec character) contains an interesting Root liqueur, adding a hint of root beer for some unexpected herbal notes.

You’ll need:

  • ¾ cup Syrah or another fruit-forward red wine
  • ¾ cup simple syrup
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tbsp Root liqueur
  • ½ cup, plus 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup of ice
  • Orange wedges to garnish

To prepare the Tom Haverford Cocktail

  • Combine the wine, simple syrup, Root liqueur, and lemon juice in a large pitcher, along with the ice.  Stir!
  • Once the drink is cold, divide it among six glasses.  Garnish each with a wedge of orange and serve.

South Brooklyn Watermark

Speaking of interesting liqueurs, the South Brooklyn Watermark cocktail introduced us to another one. It uses Nocino, which is a dark brown liqueur made from walnuts.  In combination, in highlights elements of both the wine and the whiskey, bringing out the dark, earthy, nutty flavors in both. Given the final complexity of the flavor, it is surprising that this cocktail has so few ingredients.

You’ll need:

  • 1.5 oz rye whiskey or bourbon
  • 1 oz dry red wine (they recommend using an oak aged Valpolicella)
  • ½ oz Nocino (walnut liqueur)
  • Cocktail cherries for garnish

To prepare the South Brooklyn Watermark:

  • Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass and stir.
  • Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a cocktail cherry.

The Bishop (Red Wine with Rum)

The Bishop is a simple and delicious classic cocktail that’s been making the rounds since the 1930’s.  The old versions don’t have rum, but that’s really what makes this modern recipe unforgettable.

You’ll need:

  • 3 ounces rum
  • 1 ounce red wine
  • 1 tsp simple syrup
  • The juice of half a lime

To make the Bishop cocktail:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Shake well and strain into a chilled red wine glass.

New York Sour (Wine-Spiked Whiskey)

If you love wine and you love whiskey sours, you owe it to yourself to give the New York Sour a try.  It’s delicious and the layered pour makes it a stunning addition to the table at any event.

You’ll need:

  • 2 oz of rye whiskey or bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • ½ oz of a fruit-forward red wine, ideally a Malbec or Shiraz

To make a New York Sour:

  • Combine the whiskey or bourbon, lemon juice, and the simple syrup in a cocktail shaker and fill it with ice.
  • Cover and shake well, about thirty seconds. Then strain into a glass with fresh ice.
  • Add the wine by pouring it over the back of a spoon, held just above the surface of the drink.  This will give it a beautiful layering effect.

1870 Sour Cocktail

The 1870 Sour cocktail is a twist on the New York sour that has some unexpected ingredients, but the final result is surprisingly delicious. If the addition of the egg yolk concerns you, too, don’t let it.  It’s quite common in cocktails and gives them a luscious, velvety texture.

You’ll need:

  • 2 oz whiskey (they recommend George Dickel Old No. 8 Tennessee whiskey)
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • ¾ oz maple syrup
  • One egg white
  • 1 tsp blueberry jam
  • 1 oz Zinfandel (they recommend Ravenswood Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel)

To prepare an 1870 Sour cocktail:

  • Combine all ingredients but the wine in a cocktail shaker with no ice.  Shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
  • Fill the shaker with ice and shake for 15 more seconds.
  • Strain into a chilled Mason jar or a Bordeaux wine glass, if you prefer.
  • Use a spoon to float the wine at the surface of the cocktail, as described in the last recipe.


The Francophile is a hot cocktail with red wine and brandy, wonderful for the winter months.  This recipe requires you to make a homemade cinnamon syrup, but trust us: it’s worth it.

You’ll need:

  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 oz Calvados (which is an apple or pear brandy from the Normandy region)
  • 1-½ oz Rioja wine
  • ¼  oz fresh lemon juice
  • Apple slices (for garnish)

First, to make the cinnamon syrup:

  • Break the cinnamon sticks into pieces and place them in a small saucepan with the sugar and water.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and then simmer on low for a few minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, cover it, and allow the mixture to sit for at least six hours. Then strain out the chunks of cinnamon and store the syrup in the refrigerator until use.

To prepare the Francophile cocktail:

  • Combine the Calvados, Rioja, and lemon juice in a saucepan, along with ½ oz of the cinnamon syrup and 3 oz of water.
  • Bring the heat to medium and cook until the mixture is hot.
  • Pour it into a mug and garnish with slices of apple, plus more cinnamon sticks if you wish.

Sweater Weather

The Sweater Weather is a cozy, spiced cocktail made with port.  It’s balanced to highlight the flavors of the port with the citrus and spices, too, so it won’t be overtaken.  Snowed in? No problem. This recipe scales well. They recommend quadrupling it if you’re having a party or just a long winter session in front of the fireplace.

You’ll need:

  • 6 oz port (they recommend Fonseca Bin No. 27)
  • 1 clove
  • 1 star anise, plus more for garnish
  • ½ cinnamon stick, plus more for garnish
  • Orange peels removed in a long strip (with a veggie peeler)
  • A dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Grated nutmeg

To make the Sweater Weather cocktail:

  • Put the port, the spices, and an orange peel in a small pot and bring it to a low simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Strain the mixture and combine it with 1 oz water in a mug or other heat-safe glass.
  • Add a dash of Angostura bitters and garnish with a cinnamon stick, orange peel studded with cloves, and grated nutmeg.
  • Enjoy!

man and woman enjoying hot drinks