Jamaica (Hibiscus) Sangria

I love hosting dinner parties and fiestas. My husband calls it an addiction. I think he is right — I love coming up with a creative menu and a signature drink but most importantly I love having friends and family over. The funny part is that every time I host an event it rains or snows. And our recent Candlemas dinner was no exception. We had our first blizzard of 2012 in Colorado. We had over two feet of snow! My cousin and her family who live only one-mile away almost didn’t make the trip. They had to strap on some chains to the tires of their big Ford F-350 to make the trek. Thankfully they made it safely with delicious cilantro lime rice in hand.

We’ll post more photos about my dinner menu in Colorado and my sister’s dinner menu in Germany later, but for now I wanted to share the signature drink recipe of the night in Colorado.

We had quite the feast Friday night. I was cooking, decorating, and cleaning all day, so I really wanted a drink that was simple and self-serve. I decided to make sangria. I love sangria and you might remember our red Rioja sangria I make often. This jamaica sangria is quite different. It’s made with dry white wine instead of a fruity Spanish red wine. The spicy undertones of cinnamon and jamaica made this the perfect drink for a chilly Colorado evening and everyone truly loved it. It is a recipe I definitely plan to make again. It was ideal for our cozy intimate dinner party of eight.

After everyone left and hubby and I were cleaning up, it dawned on me that this luscious red jamaica sangria would be a perfect drink for lovers of all ages (above 21). I can see Bill and I having a glass or two after the kiddos have gone to bed paired with an appetizer like bruschetta, brie, or all by itself, on Valentine’s Day. On this occasion the fruit might be the dessert. So for this year on that special day when you want to serve something different and unique why not try this simple and elegant sangria.

What is your favorite drink on Valentine’s Day?

Jamaica (Hibiscus) Sangria

Ingredients:

4 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
2 anise stars
1 ½ cups dried hibiscus flowers
2 750-mililiter bottles of dry white wine (recommend Pinot)
3 cups ginger ale, chilled
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 medium red Bartlett pears, halved, cored, and cubed
1 ½ cups seedless grapes
Fresh mint leaves (optional)

Directions:

In a saucepan, combine the water, the cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and anise stars; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add hibiscus flowers. Let mixture cool about 15 minutes or until almost room temperature. Strain into a large pitcher and refrigerate.

Just before your guests arrive, fill a punch bowl with the jamaica tea, white wine, and ginger ale. Add fruit and stir gently. If desired, garnish glasses with ice, additional lemon slices, and mint. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, Mexican Magazine

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Written by Yvette / Photos by Yvette