bourbon summer sangria.


I have probably sat down to write a new post at least a hundred times over the last year. I have so much to say, so many new things to tell you all about. But the words just weren’t there.

It’s been the same song and dance each time I’ve tried to write, fingers hovering, ready and poised over the keyboard. I’ll stare into the blankness of a new document, looking past it, unfocused, like I’m trying to find the hidden image in an autostereogram.

It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, or any new recipes to share. I just don’t know where to begin. I haven’t written anything that wasn’t directly related to my schoolwork in over a year. I haven’t  I left this space, my tiny little corner of the Internet, to idle and collect dust. One month, then two, then six passed. I gave myself an out, owing my lack of free time to the unyielding demands and pressures of grad school.

At first, it was remarkably easy, allowing myself to forget about writing for myself, for this site. Eventually, the guilt crept up, as guilt is often wont to do. I tucked it away, along with the self-loathing and frustration I felt each time I thought about how long it had been since I last updated my site. I stopped checking my site analytics and e-mail accounts. I just shut down. I compartmentalized. I had to. Otherwise, there’s no way in hell I would’ve made it through the three ring circus that was my first year of grad school.

A few months ago, I realized that it was time to start thinking about writing again. I wasn’t feeling quite as crushed or overwhelmed as I had been the previous semester, when I was barely treading water. We moved into a larger apartment, one that didn’t make me feel breathless and claustrophobic and trapped, as our previous two sublets had. I began cooking again, and even took photos on occasion. But when it came time to actually write, I just couldn’t. The words just weren’t there.

How are you supposed to re-introduce yourself to the world, when you can’t write a single sentence?


 I hemmed, and I hawed. At this point, nine months had passed since I last wrote anything or updated my site. I began to panic. It’s been too long since I’ve posted anything new, so whatever I make and write about next has to be over-the-top!

You know, brainstorming can be a real bitch when you’re completely disenchanted.

I started compiling recipe ideas again, scrawling lists full of promise and sweetness and hopefully, deliverance. I baked! I baked brownies and cookies and cakes, all gluten free of course, since my body decided to stop tolerating gluten a year ago. I stacked and frosted layer cakes, and allowed myself to marvel at their loveliness. I could start again, and  maybe it would be okay that I hadn’t posted in damn near a year’s time. Maybe, just maybe I could come back.

But still, the words just weren’t there. Nothing felt right. The beautiful layer cakes suddenly seemed…desperate. Like I was trying too hard, standing in the middle of a crowded room on top of a chair, screaming, “Please, please, look at me! Remember me? I’m fancy and pretty! Love me!”


The words still aren’t quite here, even now. I still don’t know where to begin, or what to say, or how to say it. I’m a little rusty, but I know the only way I can start writing again is to start writing again. I would rather start off small, than not start at all.


I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my return to blogging than with a cocktail. It just feels right. Sangria. It’s quintessentially summer. I’m crazy for sangrias which use white or rose wine, but I’ve been trying to get in the habit of drinking more red wine. You know, for heart health.

I’ve been playing around with sangria recipes lately because I’m throwing a wedding shower at the end of the summer for my wonderful best friend and her wonderful fiancé, and sangria may or may not be one of the beverages I’ll be serving. This particular sangria is quite rich and deeply flavored, thanks to the inclusion of bourbon, bitters, and orange liqueur.


 I simply used the fruit I had on hand: oranges, lemons, limes, and Rainier cherries (my favorite!), but I think this sangria would be incredible with a medley of stone fruits: peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots. Amazing.

I suppose the important thing is’t coming back with a bang, or making some sort of grand re-entrance. It’s not about pomp or circumstance or fanfare or a ticker tape parade. In the end, what matters is simply returning. So, simply put, I am back, and I will try in earnest to update and post and share recipes on some sort of semi-frequent basis. I have missed you all so dearly.


Bourbon Summer Sangria

this recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd!


  • 2 bottles red wine (I like syrah or shiraz, but use what you love. Rose would be wonderful here as well!)
  • 1 cup good quality bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons old fashioned bitters
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 cup orange liqueur
  • 2 oranges, thinly sliced
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 2 limes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cherries, pitted and roughly chopped or smashed
  • 2 cups sparkling water (I used San Pellegrino sparkling blood orange, which I recommend if you can find it!)


  1. In a large pitcher, combine all ingredients except the sparkling water.
  2. Cover and refrigerate at least four hours for the flavors to meld together. Overnight is even better.
  3. To serve, top off with sparkling water.

a food + words original

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25 Responses to “bourbon summer sangria.”

  1. #
    Katie — June 26, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Ahhh! I’m so frigging excited to read a snarky yet oh-so you blog post from YOU!!!! I missed you and missed your little space on the internet! I love everything about this recipe… especially since I just posted about a sangria recipe yesterday! Glad to read your doing well and survived your first year of grad school!

  2. #
    Bev @ Bev Cooks — June 26, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    I’ve missssed you! It’s so nice to see a post from you! Welcome back, m’dear. xo.

  3. #
    Allison (Spontaneous Tomato) — June 26, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Lovely post and photos! I am a big (BIG) fan of sangria, and now of your blog! And I know exactly the feeling of the longer you let something lapse the more the guilt and self-doubt take over and make it harder to pick up again where you left off, but I think you’ve done it with style and grace.

  4. #
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — June 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    This looks totally perfect! Sangria is the absolute best summer drink!

  5. #
    Paula - bell'alimento — June 26, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Good to see you again friend! xoxo

  6. #
    Kiran @ — June 26, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    What a delicious recipe to celebrate a comeback! Welcome my friend :) xo

  7. #
    mama — June 27, 2013 at 1:27 am

    Welcome Back !!! You have been missed ~ :)

  8. #
    Kathryn — June 27, 2013 at 6:30 am

    I’m so glad that you, your pictures and your words are back. I will definitely raise a glass of this boozy sangria to that!

  9. #
    Erika — June 27, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Welcome back and what a way to come back..with Bourbon. :)

  10. #
    Vicki — June 27, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Well, it was just so great to see your blog post in my email! Glad you’re back and Sangria it is for the weekend!

  11. #
    Nutmeg Nanny — June 27, 2013 at 10:51 am

    This looks fabulous! I am a huge fan of sangria and this one is awesome :)

  12. #
    Blair — June 27, 2013 at 10:56 am

    I was just thinking how much I missed your blog. I was hoping you’d come back! I love your photos, your writing style, and your love of things amazing and boozy. Welcome back!

  13. #
    Wanda — June 27, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Love how you think! Your entry back is perfect!

  14. #
    Buddy — June 27, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Welcome back, Jac! I do hope you came back well.
    You know… Instagram now has video w/audio capabilities. (*hint)
    We could read you here and hear you there… and see ya on the video! (*hint)

  15. #
    Kristin — June 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Welcome back! I know how hard it can be to return from a non-posting stint…what a fabulous way to do it! The sangria looks and sounds amazing, it’s been too long since I’ve made it, this is a perfect recipe to bring it back to my kitchen!

  16. #
    Rachel Cooks — July 1, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I’m pretty much sold on anything with bourbon and this looks like it would be no exception!

  17. #
    Rachel Cooks — July 1, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I’m pretty much sold on anything with bourbon and this looks like it would be no exception!

  18. #
    Natalie at Oven Love — July 6, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    So glad to have you back!!

  19. #
    Aggie — July 10, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    I’ve been wondering about you!! So nice to read this post. This sangria looks amazing!!

  20. #
    ErinsFoodFiles — July 10, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Welcome back! :) And you did it with bourbon, bravo.

  21. #
    kellypea — July 16, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I struggle with all of this routinely. For example, I’ve purchased ingredients to make Sangria four times in the last several weeks, and do you think I’ve accomplished that? Um…no. But yours is spectacular. I’ve never had Sangria with Bourbon. Gorgeous photos, too!

  22. #
    Gaelle — August 1, 2013 at 3:47 am

    Happy to read you again!

  23. #
    nouvelle air max — August 17, 2014 at 10:17 pm

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  24. #
    joan jett — August 18, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    If you like bourbon- I made this with 1.5 to 2 cups of bourbon per one bottle of wine. With two bottles of wine, there is no way you will taste the bourbon- and so it’s just a waste of liquor. Change the proportions and this is great!

  25. #
    James — April 28, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Who actually made this recipe and tried it?

    I’m on my third batch and I’m still finding them flat. First batch was with a red grenache, one with barrel aged bitter, the other with old fashion bitters, little difference. Next went to a Rose as the wine base and old fashion bitters. Better, but still lacking.

    May try bumping up the bourbon as the prior post suggests, and may look at adding apples and grapes. Want this to work for a Derby / Cinco drink, but need it to come together as a solid drink. May muddle a touch of mint and cilantro to add depth and blend the two events.

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