Let It Snow!

Spiced Red Sangria, as served at Border Grill at Mandalay Bay, $9

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, indeed. So much better that you should keep to indoors and dream of places sunny and warm while enjoying a seasonally inspired cocktail. At Border Grill, classic red sangria gets all dolled up for the holidays with an entirely new flavor profile: Cinnamon, clove, allspice and peppercorns paint a wintry backdrop for all the delicious citrus and wine that follows.

Border Grill owners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger collaborated with Las Vegas executive chef Mike Minor to winterize their classic red sangria last year for Border Grill’s L.A. location. It makes its debut here this week. “I don’t think mixology is that different from cooking,” Milliken says. “You have all these ingredients at your disposal and you’re trying to understand historically what goes together [and] then trying to make it more modern and exciting. As a chef I just want to come up with something that is delightful, surprising, interesting and, most importantly, really delicious.”

Served cold, it’s utterly refreshing, and would make a great bowl of punch for your holiday fêtes. And we’re thinking that gently warmed and ladeled from a crockpot, it could be Feliz Navidad incarnate. Just strain out the fruit after it’s steeped as the citrus oils can turn it bitter; serve with a slice of fresh orange instead. Leave it to a chef to think of everything.

Directions: Place 2 cracked cinnamon sticks, 6 whole cloves, 6 cracked black peppercorns, and 3 allspice berries in a small saucepan with 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool, then strain and discard the spices. Cut 1 orange, 1 lemon, and 1 lime in half and then into ¼-inch slices. Place the sliced fruit in a pitcher, pour in a 750-milliliter bottle of any light, fruity red wine and the spiced syrup, and let sit for 1 to 2 hours. Juice 3 oranges; just before serving, add the orange juice and 2 cups ice cubes into the wine and fruit mixture. Stir briskly and serve immediately.