Now Serving – Swindler’s Sangria

By The Gentleman

Swindler's Sangria

It took me a while to convince The Lady to let me make this drink for her but I got there in the end. The Lady has enjoyed good wine for longer than I have and this basically goes against all her sensibilities as a wine drinker.


This drink is based off the Kalimotxo, which is a Spanish cocktail that is essentially red wine, typically a cheaper bottle or cask, mixed with Coca Cola. It’s a cheap drink that you can make a lot of, and it helps to make some rather moderate wine taste a bit better. The story goes that the original Kalimotxo was created when some wine had started to go off and developed a sour taste so cola was added to mask the flavour. I came across it in Paris after I met one of my brother’s friends who was from Argentina. She said the drink was also popular there, particularly in the Summer, but bartenders always gave her funny looks in Paris when she would order red wine and a cola and then pour in the cola while she was standing at the bar. I was still on my wine L plates at this stage, basically being force fed red wine because it’s Paris and that’s what you do in Paris, so I didn’t mind mixing things up while I still got accustomed to being a wine guy. We hear at the Cocktail Challenge like to jazz things up a bit, so we thought we’d make this drink a little more fancy with our favourite new wine. We decided to call it a Swindler’s Sangria because it is like a Sangria that a con man would try to sell you, a sneaky cheat version of the famous classic that’s just a bit different.

Swindler's Sangria


2 dashes Mister Bitters Pink Grapefruit Bitters

Red Wine (we used Hither & Yon Shiraz Cabernet)

Cola (we used Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola)

Lemon slice

Orange slice


In a high ball glass add a lot of ice and your dashes of bitters. Half fill the glass with red wine and then top with cola. Add your slices of fruit to the glass and you can squeeze some extra juice in there if you want it to be extra fruity (and why wouldn’t you darling?).

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The people at fine wineries may cringe at our use of an excellent wine in the Swindler’s Sangria, but we decided to take the stance that you shouldn’t make a drink with something you wouldn’t drink on its own and Hither & Yon is something we’d damn well drink on its own. Plus the Fentiman’s Cola has quite a strong and pronounced flavour so we needed a wine that was equal to the task.

Swindler's Sangria

I think the best thing to say about the Swindler’s Sangria is that I got The Lady to drink it and she didn’t hate it! In fact she quite enjoyed it, much to her surprise. Success! The drink has a real Sangria sort of quality to it, hence the Swindler’s Sangria. You get this really lovely boozy fruit aroma that is just damn enticing. The Lady’s biggest concern was the cola and it just taking over everything but luckily it doesn’t. You can definitely adjust the ratio of red wine to cola but at 50/50 you get slightly toned down flavours of both the red wine and cola that allows them to blend together quite nicely. The flavours are definitely reminiscent of Sangria but it’s not as tart or as strong as the flavours haven’t had time to soak in. Basically if you’ve got a hankering for some Sangria right now (!) then this is the drink for you. In just a few ticks you can be sipping a delightful blend of fruits, red wine and subtle sweetness from the cola while imagining you’re in Spain soaking up the sun.

Swindler's Sangria

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Disclaimer: The Cocktail Challenge was provided a free sample bottle of Hither & Yon 2013 Shiraz Cabernet for a previous article. Although that post was sponsored all opinions are our own.


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