Red wine cocktails are generally relegated to the winter months where mulled wine and Smoking Bishops thrive. But tossed over ice and made tall with tonic, soda water or even sparkling wine, they can be surprisingly adaptable to warmer months, too.
Take the Tinto Tónico, for instance, which calls simply on red wine and tonic water. A hybrid between a Spanish-style Gin and Tonic and Tinto de Verano (red wine and lemon soda), its two-ingredient formula and low-proof make for an easy summer standby. Richie Boccato’s Kitty Highball is likewise adapted from a two-ingredient cocktail: the 1941 drink of the same name, first published in W.C. Whitfield’s Here’s How. At his Brooklyn Bar Fresh Kills, however, Boccato modernizes the recipe, which originally consisted of red wine and ginger ale, by using fresh ginger syrup and soda water for a snappier take.
Red wine can shine in more layered constructions, too. At Nitecap, Natasha David’s Treasure Chest adds both spiced and floral notes by way of chai-infused oloroso sherry and Lillet Rouge, which she tops with dry sparkling wine for a drink that reads like improved lambrusco. The Red Queen, meanwhile, layers the cooling alpine quality of Braulio Amaro over a measure of bourbon. Though it can be garnished with a host of winter-ready herbs on colder days, generous bouquets of mint and thyme make this formula a refreshing spring-summer staple.
In our very own PUNCH House Spritz, meanwhile, the wine arrives in the form of sparkling lambrusco, while Cocchi Americano brings a bitter note and fresh grapefruit juice acts as a foil to its sweetness. Best of all, like any good summer drink, it can be built for a crowd.