When it comes to entertaining, I like to keep things simple by serving a pre-mixed drink from a pitcher -- that way no one has to play bartender all night. And when it comes to pitchers full of drinks, it doesn't get much easier or tastier than sangria. This version has a seasonal twist with its pears, pomegranate juice and sparkling apple cider. It's great for fall entertaining or even a Halloween party -- sangria does come from the Spanish word for blood after all.
1 (750 ml) bottle of red wine, Spanish or dry red wine
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur, triple sec or Grand Marnier
1/4 cup pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 apple, diced
1 pear, diced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 (750 ml) bottle of sparkling apple cider, chilled
Cut apple and pear into cubes and toss with lemon juice. Combine all ingredients except the sparkling cider in a large container or pitcher. Cover and refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight if you prefer. When ready to serve, add the sparkling cider.