I love hot weather and it’s beautiful out right now. Eating and drinking outside on a day like today is my idea of perfection. I love to entertain, and my favorite drink to serve for an outdoor gathering is sangria. I love sangria because it is about the simplest-to-make party drink. You can make it in large batches ahead of time, or you can make just a couple of glasses. You can customize it to your taste and flavor preferences, and the combinations are endless: red wine with orange and vanilla bean, white wine with peaches and basil, spirits or none, fizz or no fizz. There is no wrong way! No need for measuring or a recipe, just wine and fruit.
When I make red sangria for a party, I keep it simple. I love to also make this just by the glass. Start out by filling a pitcher half full with ice. Add some spirits; brandy or an orange liqueur are traditional, but I like to use both! My standard-size pitcher calls for about 2 shots of each, about ¼ – ½ cup total. Next: fruit! Here is where you can really make it special with citrus, berries, melon, and/or apples. There is no right or wrong answer. Next, fill the rest of the pitcher with a red wine, something young and fruity. I like to use Spanish red, either garnacha or tempranillo. Monte Oton or Protocolo Red comes to mind. If you like your sangria sweeter, add some sugar. Stir, stir, stir. I like to top it off with a splash of club soda or sparkling water. I like a little fizz in my drinks, but again, it’s all about your likes.
The best sangria I have ever tasted was one made on the beach, with José Andres (yep, that one) demonstrating a recipe. Let’s call it the vacation principle: Naturally, because of the setting and the mood and the company, the best drink that you ever had is what you’re drinking during a particularly memorable occasion.
I was sweating in the hot sun, my feet were in the sand, I was thirsty, and I was swathed in paella smoke. When someone handed me that sangria, it was the best. The fact that Andres is the man (!) also helps. I think about that sangria, wistfully and often. To recreate:
Spanish Brandy Any brandy will work, but Spanish brandy, which is heavier and sweeter than French styles, really makes for a great sangria.
Licor 43 This is a unique Spanish spirit. It’s smooth, floral, a rich golden color, and is made from 43 different fruits and herbs from the Mediterranean.
Spanish Cava Kila Cava is a favorite: crisp, bubbly, and a lot of character for $10.
Comine ice, fruit, and mint leaves. Add spirits – again, to your taste. Coat the ice. Add Cava to the top. Stir.
You need a special hot day, laughter, and possibly of your own paella smoke, which you can easily recreate over your backyard fire pit. Emily gives you some tips on how to make the perfect paella this week. But, be warned: Serving both paella and sangria will guarantee that people will want you to host this party again and again, but that’s what summers are for. Enjoy! – Lindsey Coleman, Surdyk’s