There’s no need to choose between wine and cocktails when wine-tails exist. Mixing wine into a drink can add balance, body and flavor to everything from a classic New York Sour to a decadent red wine-spiked hot chocolate. All it takes is an open mind—and bottle—to discover the wonderful things that happen when vino and liquor come together in one glass. But you can’t just toss a couple of shots of vodka into some Sauvignon Blanc and call it a day. So we turned to the pros for some primo wine-tail recipes. Whip these up at home and convert your wine-obsessed friends into cocktail enthusiasts.
3 Wine-Spiked Cocktails for Vino Lovers
Created by Blake Pope, beverage director at Kindred Restaurant in Davidson, North Carolina, this ruby port-enhanced Whiskey Sour transcends trends and seasons. “I use Quinta de Novol’s ruby port—a younger style that’s jammy and rich—which gives this cocktail loads of body,” Pope says. “The port also softens and sweetens a bracing combination of overproof rye whiskey, lemon juice and the bitter Italian digestif Cynar.” Shaken together, the cocktail is downright addictive and amazingly good with Southern food like fried chicken and country ham biscuits.
Some may know Retsina as that overly piney Greek wine served at Yia Yia’s house along with the spanikopita and moussaka. But modern iterations of the distinctive white wine (which gets its unique flavor from time spent aging with Aleppo pine resin) are much smoother and more sophisticated. Producers aren’t just using pine resin to cover up subpar wine, but instead to make an already good wine even better. Wine Director Kamal Kouiri of NYC’s Molyvos has found these modern bottlings to be particularly good in cocktails, especially this Grecian take on a Mojito. “It features the ancient Greek wine with classic Mojito flavors because mint and lime marry well with Retsina’s herbal notes of eucalyptus and pine,” he says. Make one for Yia Yia the next time you visit and score an extra big slice of baklava.
This sweet-tart take on the Pisco Sour from Eric Books of Craigie on Main in Cambridge, Massachusetts combines two of the bartender’s favorite drinks: Riesling wine and sour cocktails. “It tastes like delicious lemon meringue pie with a grape brandy backbone that is at once refreshing, dry, round and particularly well balanced,” Books says. Feel free to swap out the citrus in the cordial depending on the season or availability—tangerines are an especially good substitute for grapefruit.
Grapefruit Lime Cordial