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Birds Again: A low-alcohol batch cocktail recipe

A twist on the conventional sour, this refreshing cocktail calls for white wine instead of spirits for a lower-alcohol sip.
Image: The Birds Again
The low alcohol content of the Birds Again makes it a perfect daytime sip. Kelly Puleio

You’re familiar with sours made with tequila (hey, margarita) and rum (that’s a daiquiri). You’ve probably had a pisco sour or a sidecar. But what happens when you skip the strong spirit and pour in tangy Sauvignon Blanc and herbal dry vermouth instead? Scented with basil and rose water, this low-proof easy drinker from Shaun Traxler of Vault in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is bright and refreshing but still more cocktail than sangria. Chill the wine and vermouth before you begin, and if you really want to ace the presentation, garnish the pitcher with food-grade rosebuds or rose petals. You’ll need one large or two small bottles of vermouth for this recipe.

Birds Again

Makes about 13 servings in a 2-quart pitcher


15 fresh basil leaves, torn in half

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons 1:1 simple syrup (recipe follows)

1 1/4 teaspoons rose water

2 1/4 cups chilled Sauvignon Blanc

2 1/4 cups chilled dry vermouth (such as Dolin)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


About 13 edible rosebuds or rose petals (optional)

13 fresh basil leaves

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Up to 2 hours before serving, make the batch. Place basil leaves, simple syrup, and rose water in a 2-quart pitcher. Tap basil gently with a muddler or long wooden spoon, just enough to coax the flavor out; don’t pulverize it. Pour in chilled Sauvignon Blanc, chilled vermouth, and lime juice and stir well to mix. If not serving immediately, seal well, covering with plastic wrap if needed, and refrigerate.

To serve, stir mixture well. Garnish pitcher with rosebuds or rose petals, if desired. Pour cocktail into ice-filled wineglasses or rocks glasses and garnish each glass with a basil leaf and freshly ground pepper, if desired.


Makes about 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup very hot water

Combine sugar and hot water in a resealable container, such as a mason jar, and stir to dissolve slightly. As soon as it’s cool enough to handle, seal container and shake until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool completely and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Reprinted with permission from Batch Cocktails: Make-Ahead Pitcher Drinks for Every Occasion by Maggie Hoffman, copyright© 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, animprint of Penguin Random House.

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