Covers & Cocktails: The Duchess

Welcome back to Covers & Cocktails! I’m so excited for this particular drink because it combines several of my favorite summer things: drinking, watermelon, and rosé.

Though I don’t really limit my alcohol consumption to what’s “seasonal” (I’ll drink a porter in the middle of August), there’s something I enjoy about light wines, fizzy bubbles, and juicy fruits all mixed together in one drink. It’s great for warmer weather where you just want to sit outside with a book and big ol’ sun hat. The following recipe is essentially a summer sangria.

Project Duchess
A | BN | K | AB

This month’s Covers & Cocktails is sponsored by Project Duchess by Sabrina Jeffries and is the start to a new historical romance series. There are many things I love about this cover and I was immediately attracted by the soft pink tones of the heroine’s dress. There’s also the tagline: “Duchesses are made, not born…” It gave me visions of etiquette classes, a makeover montage, and a stern, yet caring older woman helping the heroine learn her worth.

That’s kind of what you get in the book, but with more smooching.

Jeffries has an interesting tone to her romances. There’s a lightness and frivolity to their setups, but the characters are often struggling with darker elements. In Project Duchess, there are characters who suffer from PTSD and the lingering trauma of abuse (content warning!). It’s a delicate balance.

Because of this, I didn’t want the drink to be terribly sweet, opting for a dryer rosé than I would normally drink on its own. To replicate the “darker” aspects of the book, I used cherries, blackberries, and blueberries as the fruit. If you’ve ever had a watermelon Jolly Rancher, this drink tastes exactly like that. Minus all the candy sticking to your molars.

The drink name? The Duchess. A delicate and fancy name for a seemingly delicate and fancy drink.

Ingredients for a summer sangria

Shopping list:
A 750mL bottle of rose
Strawberry watermelon seltzer
Watermelon vodka
Watermelon juice
Frozen berries

Proportions:
One whole bottle of rose
3 cups of seltzer
1 cup of watermelon juice
1/2 cup of watermelon vodka
1/4 cup sugar
As many frozen berries as your hearts desire

Note: Now I know some of you might say, “Amanda, where the hell did the watermelon juice come from? It isn’t in the picture.”

Well, my first batch didn’t have it. My roommate and lovely taste tester said it needed something more to tip it either to the tart or the sweet side. I had watermelon juice in my fridge because it’s summer and watermelon juice is delicious. I add a cup of it to the mixture and she said it was exactly what it needed.

Thanks, Stephanie!

Directions:

  1. Pour everything into a pitcher.
  2. Stir sugar until dissolved
  3. Add frozen fruit.
  4. Let sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  5. Then drink, drink, drink!

Modifications and notes:

  • Frozen fruit actually has two uses here. One, as replacement ice cubes. Pop some into your glass right after pouring. Two, as boozy little fruit bombs, but that only qualifies for the fruit that’s been sitting in the mixture for a while.
  • I used berries, but diced watermelon might also be a great choice, especially if you love watermelon!
  • Not sure of your local seltzer selection, but if you don’t have strawberry watermelon, either flavor will work (strawberry or watermelon).
  • The sugar helps add some sweetness, which is honestly dependent on the kind of rosé you have. Some rosés are sweeter than others; adjust as need be.
  • Definitely let the pitcher rest in the fridge for a bit. You want all the flavors to combine and the fruit to soften.
  • Don’t know where to find watermelon juice? Some stores have it in the produce area, but I use the Simply brand!

A pink sangria with fruit in a fluted glass next to a stack of books.

Happy drinking!

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