Growing up, my parents would invite dozens of our closest friends and family out to the farmhouse for bonfires and hayrides. My mom would whip up some of her famous chili and kids would line up for a chance to crank some Coffing Bros. apples through our antique cider press. Just when we were licking the last marshmallow smear off our fingers, my dad would crank up the old B tractor, slide the board off the back of the hay wagon and up we’d go, blankets in hand. Some years I cuddled next to a great-aunt or uncle, watching stars shoot across the sky as they hummed out the tune to “Back Home Again in Indiana”. Other years I giggled along with friends as we swung our feet and tried to push each other off the back, once taking a running leap to get back on and missing the wagon all together. Finally, I savored the reprieve from city lights and snuggled in against Danny as we gazed out at the moonlight reflected against fields of broken cornstalks.
So the itch to host hits me like clockwork mid-September and won’t quite let go until past Thanksgiving. You know what they say, if you can’t bring yourself to the party, bring the party to you. And that’s exactly what I did this weekend. Twice.
How you doin’?
That’s right, back-to-back fall festivities in the Fres-yes. Pumpkins were carved, outdoor movies were shown, and copious munchies consumed. I was on the hunt for a signature fall drink that could be whipped up in advance and this Sparkling Cider Sangria really did the trick. I recommend pairing it with your favorite nineties throwback to ensure spontaneous moves are busted on your living room floor.
Sparkling Cider Sangria (click here for printable recipe)
adapted from this Kitchn recipe
2 pitchers, serves 16
- 3 apples, chopped into matchsticks
- ¼ c. pomegranate seeds
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 1 cup brandy
- ½ c. pomegranate juice
- 2 bottles sparkling wine
Boozy Fruit: Slice the apples into skinny 1 inch matchsticks and place in bowl. Add brandy, pomegranate seeds and cinnamon, stir and let sit for at least one hour.
Sangria: When guests arrive, pour ½ of boozy fruit mixture into a pitcher along with 2 cups cider and stir. Slowly add the sparkling wine and stir once more. Pour over ice and top each glass with fruit from the pitcher.
Repeat the Sangria steps for round two. Making this recipe one pitcher at a time will ensure that each glass is equally sparkly.
And how darling is this pumpkin dip that my coworker brought?!
What’s better than made to order s’mores!?
For the outdoor movie night, I tossed together my favorite fall snacks for a trick-or-treat trail mix.
Thousands of miles from home, I’ve reinvented the fall gathering to suit the place and time I’m in now. And with a glass of sangria in one hand and a s’more in the other, I think there’s something to be said for new traditions.