Spooky Halloween-Inspired Sangria Bar

Created by: Julia Mueller, The Roasted Root

My friends and I have a tradition of getting together on Halloween to enjoy appetizers, watch horror movies and pass out Halloween candy to trick-or-treaters. Some of us even dress up in costumes and we all enjoy a low-key evening with homemade cocktails. We enjoy making a theme for our evening by choosing a spooky Halloween-inspired food or drink to prepare and share.

All my friends enjoy a good glass of vino, so we like to make batches of cocktails using wine. This year for Halloween, we’ll have a build-your-own sangria bar at our gathering. Sangria is a cocktail originating from Spain and Portugal that combines wine – traditionally red wine – with fruit, brandy, juice and sugar. Sangria means “bloodletting” in Spanish, because the cocktail typically turns out deep red. The color and the name make sangria the perfect signature cocktail to enjoy at your adult Halloween party.

A build-your-own sangria bar is an entertaining and interactive way for you and your friends to enjoy the holiday. And the best part: everyone can make their own drinks to cater to their personal tastes. In addition to a DIY sangria bar, you can also prepare a large batch of sangria ahead of time. It will become more flavorful the longer it sits.

Here is a simple recipe for a batch of sangria:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle (750 mL) dry red, white or rose wine
  • ¼ cup liquor, such as brandy, whisky or bourbon
  • 2-4 Tbsp. liquid sweetener, such as pure maple syrup or agave nectar
  • ½ cup fruit juice
  • 1-2 oz. orange, cherry or apple liqueur, optional
  • 2 cups fresh fruit, chopped
  • Flavor add-ins or garnishes, such as cinnamon sticks or fresh herbs.

Be sure you have plenty of space for a build-your-own sangria bar so you can spread out a variety of ingredients. Your guests can pick and choose what ingredients they'd like to include. A good formula for a single-serving glass of sangria is:

  • 1 cup red or white wine
  • 1-2 oz. fruit juice
  • ½-1 oz. brandy or bourbon
  • 1-2 tsp. sweetener of choice, to taste
  • Chopped fruit, to taste

Simply fill a glass with ice, add the desired ingredients and stir well until combined.

Consider including the following in your build-your-own sangria bar:

  • Multiple bottles of both red and white wine depending on how many guests you'll have
  • Bowls of chopped fresh fruit, such as strawberries, grapes, apples, plums, pears and oranges
  • Brandy or bourbon
  • One or two kinds of flavored liqueur, such as orange, caramel, apple or cherry
  • 100% fruit juice, such as pomegranate, orange, apple or blueberry
  • Liquid sweetener such as agave or pure maple syrup
  • Ice
  • Stir sticks
  • Halloween decorations, such as fake cobwebs, plastic spiders and pumpkins

Make your sangria spooky by choosing ingredients that will make it appear black or bright red. For a dark black sangria, mix together a bottle of dry red wine, such as malbec or cabernet sauvignon, a small amount of pomegranate or blueberry juice, and dark fruit, such as black grapes, plums, blueberries or blackberries.

Select a bottle of dry white wine such as sauvignon blanc to make a bright red sangria that mimics the color of blood. Add pomegranate or beet juice, along with red fruit like strawberries, cherries and red grapes. I visit the produce section of my local Kroger for the fruit, then make a beeline for the alcohol section to pick up a wide selection of wines, brandy, bourbon and fruit-flavored liqueurs.

Depending on the tastes of your guests, everyone can adjust the amount of sweetener, liqueur and/or liquor for their own cocktails. My friends and I tend to enjoy a beverage that’s on the less-sweet side, so we typically skip the liqueur and add a small amount of agave nectar or pure maple syrup. If you’re making a large batch of sangria, be sure to do it ahead of time so the fruit infuses the drink with additional flavor.

It doesn't take a lot of ingredients, time, or energy to make your adult Halloween party fun and memorable!