A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg
Of course, nothing will ever usurp the Margarita as my Fiesta drink of choice. As I’ve written in this column before, “Margaritas are part of the DNA of Santa Barbara and—along with buying Cascarones and seeing old friends—one of my favorite ways to celebrate Old Spanish Days. My son was born on July 27, 1999 and once I got over the initial euphoria, the first thing I wanted to do was drink a Margarita. After all, it was Fiesta time and that’s how we do it around here.”
But, as I’ve learned—the hard way—there is such a thing as too many Margaritas. That’s where Sangria comes in. This Spanish/Portuguese libation takes many forms.
The most common Sangrias consist of red wine, chopped fruit, a sweetener, and a small amount of added brandy, vodka or some other spirit. The beauty of a drink like this is that less expensive wines work well, and the chopped fruit can include almost anything you have around. Oranges, lemons, limes, apples, peaches, melons of all types, berries, pineapples, grapes and mangos are all good. Frozen berries work especially well, and you can substitute Sprite or 7 Up or Lemon Lime for the spirits if you want a lighter cocktail.
Sangria is pretty widely available in the summer. For example, the Coral Cafe & Bar at the Coral Casino has a Skinny Superfruit Sangria that is magically under 125 calories (made with Veev Acaí, Cranberry Juice, Red Wine and Strawberry Puree). Finch & Fork at the Canary Hotel offers a $20 “Sangria & Bites” happy hour special with a pitcher of red or white sangria and three bites to share: warm citrus marinated olives, blistered shishito peppers and honey roasted spiced nuts. Alcazar on the Mesa also has a nice Sangria happy hour special.
Also becoming popular are versions that forgo wine entirely. One of my favorite variations in that category is a Peach Sangria. Here’s a recipe from CÎROC Vodka, which is incidentally made from French grapes, rather than the traditional grain alcohol:
10 oz CÎROC Peach
5 oz Hennessy
5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice 5
1 oz Simple Syrup
40 Dashes Bitters
20 oz Club Soda
Stir over ice in 64 oz pitcher
1 oz CÎROC Peach
.5 oz Hennessy
.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
.5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
.5 oz Simple Syrup
4 Dashes Bitters
2 oz Club Soda
Stir over ice in Wine Glass
With that I’ll leave you with this Fiesta-flavored video from CÎROC partner/brand ambassador Sean Combs.
Viva la Sangria!
Click here for more cocktail corner columns.
When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”