If there’s one thing we learn every election season, it’s just how polarized people are about politics. Personally I’m glad the entire ordeal is over, regardless of the outcome, because I’m exhausted with this whole process.
Oddly, another hot-button topic that divides this country these days is the world of spirits and cocktails. For some reason, nothing gets some folks’ undies in a bunch quite like thinking about what others feel like having to drink. And if there’s yet another drink that elucidates passionate discourse and strong feelings, it’s sangria.
I feel like there are two types of people in the world: those who strongly dislike sangria and are eager to share their passion with you (why people feel the need to tell you all about their hatred for a particular drink is beyond me)-and those who love sangria and aren’t afraid to tell you how you’re doing it all wrong.
Divisive issues are a lot like mountains; when you’re so close to it, you have a hard time seeing the entire thing. Fortunately, my feelings for sangria lie far away from the virtual line in the sand that has been drawn by others; I love sangria, and I’m not here to tell you that yours is wrong.
Sangria is a traditional Spanish drink that contains, at minimum, three simple ingredients: wine, something strong, and fruit. That’s it. The wine can be red, white, or rose; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The strong component is traditionally brandy or orange liqueur, but again, feel free to get creative with yours. And fruit can be fresh whole fruit, fresh fruit juice, or a little bit of both.
Sangria doesn’t need to be a formidable pitcher of heavy, overly-sweetened, overly-spiced red wine at a Spanish restaurant. Would chilled rose, fresh grapefruit, and silver tequila, lightly sweetened with a touch of agave syrup be considered Sangria? Why yes it would — and it would be delicious.
I love Sangria any time of year. I lighten it up in the spring and throw in some fresh herbs, and in the winter I like it spice it up a bit, and possibly even serve it warm. But I like it best during post election season, when I make it strong. Sometimes it’s the best cure for other people’s opinions.
• 1 750 ml bottle red wine
• ¾ cup Grand Marnier
• 1 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
• 1 oz 2:1 simple syrup
• 1 tsp Angostura bitters
Mix ingredients together in a large pitcher. Add pieces of fresh seasonal fruit and serve in goblets over ice. Makes 8 five-ounce servings.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the bar manager at Pépé le Moko and Clyde Common, the acclaimed gastropub at the Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon. He is also author of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique.
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