DOTW: Sangrita

Posted by Cameron on 06.01.07 7:05 AM

(c)2007 CTC  ** ALL rights reservedI felt a bit odd concocting this week’s entry, given that I had never before had an authentic sangrita — by which I mean served in a roadside shack in Mexico, or in a dark Mission District dive drawing inspiration from our friends to the South. Truth be told, I’d never even had an inauthentic sangrita — served anywhere. Given my fondness for tequila, this seemed an odd state of affairs. A post from Steve over at Rancho Gordo extolling the virtues of “a shot and a sangrita” inspired me to correct this deficiency.

I was initially concerned that my lack of personal experience with the drink might prove to be an obstacle, but my research provided me with great comfort. As far as I can tell, if you ask fifteen sangrita aficionados to list the drink’s ingredients, you will get fifteen wildly different recipes and possibly an entertaining fistfight, depending on how many of the aficionados are in the room at the same time and how much tequila they’ve had.

Most of the sangrita recipes that I found started with some combination of tomato juice and citrus — usually orange juice. The next most common ingredient was grenadine or pomegranate juice. After that, ay dios mio, baby, just go to the vegetable market, close your eyes and point. I found instructions for chopped onion, chopped jalapeno, lime juice, chipotle powder, dried chopped ancho chile, Tabasco, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and lemon juice. I’m sure that there are even more exotic mixtures lurking in the darkness. I’m just happy that I stopped before I found anything that would require the services of an entomologist.

We tested recipes that included nearly every ingredient mentioned above, but ultimately settled on a combination of juices without a lot of additional hoo-hah. The key was achieving a balance between the tomato and fruit juice flavor — a process that required countless hours of selfless taste-testing… all in the interest of you, our faithful reader. With that done, we found that all of the other exciting additions just got in the way, added to the prep time, and made the drink grainy and unpalatable. Our winner was loosely based on a recipe from Rick Bayless’ Authentic Mexican. The beauty of this concoction is that you can easily adjust the proportions to your taste.

A few words about the ingredients: The orange juice was freshly squeezed; storebought juice will be more acidic and not as sweet. You can substitute grenadine for the pomegranate juice, but the result will be much sweeter. It’s worth the time to make your own good-quality tomato juice — all you need is a blender or food processor, a fine metal sieve, and some canned tomatoes.

Finally, skip the Tabasco, Tapatio, or other vinegar/cayenne sauces in favor of a good quality hot sauce that adds flavor as well as heat. We used Frontera Red Pepper Hot Sauce, which is, coincidentally, the bottled version of Bayless’ Chile de Arbol Hot Sauce, another recipe from Authentic Mexican. These days, the Frontera line is available in most grocery stores; you can also buy it online. Por supuesto, we got the very best results using Rancho Gordo Rio Fuego Very Hot Sauce, but we are impossibly biased.

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved

Sangrita Casada
makes four shots

4 oz. tomato juice
2 oz. orange juice
2 oz. lime juice
4 tsp. pomegranate juice
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
1/8 tsp. salt, or to taste
6-8 healthy dashes Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients in a glass container, and chill well in the refrigerator. When thoroughly chilled, divide into 4 shot glasses, and serve alongside 4 shots of good-quality gold tequila, preferably reposado. Sip… first the tequila, then the sangrita.

Drink of the Week, drinks, Mexican, recipes



Comment by Steve

I just love spreading love. It’s what I do!

In a recent trip to Michoacan and Jalisco, I said I liked the tomato-based sangritas best and two gringas looked at me in disdain and said, “A sangrita is NEVER made with tomato juice!” Well, for the rest of the trip, I kept ordering sangritas and EVERY one was made with tomato. So I kept ordering them and sipping under the noses so they could see but then I really developed a love of sangrita. The best is like an excellent Bloody Mary mix.

Great post and good work!

Posted on 06.01.07 at 7:51AM

Comment by Anita

Steve: A few sites mentioned that, traditionally, the drink’s red color comes courtesy of grenadine, not tomato. Purists scoff at the tomato-based versions, although they are, far and wide, the most prevalent recipes on the web. (And, as you suggest, the most popularly served in Mexico, tambien.)

Lord, I hope we’re not promoting the Mexican equivalent of the vodka martini… At least we covered our bases with the Pom. :D

Posted on 06.01.07 at 9:49AM

Comment by cookiecrumb

I’m comin’ over, vato.

Posted on 06.01.07 at 3:53PM

Comment by sandi @ the whistlestop cafe

I just posted a Sangria recipe~ which I would have though to be the same as sangrita. Very different!
This looks like something I have to try!

Posted on 06.02.07 at 11:32AM

Comment by Christiane

I love the looks of this, although I’m not sure I could get past the tomato juice. In theory, it sounds good though.

Love the blog, btw. I found you through Tastespotting.

Posted on 06.02.07 at 5:24PM

Comment by Cameron

Christiane: Welcome! As Anita and Steve mention, there is a significant contingent of folks who feel that tomato-based sangrita is anything from an abomination to simply misguided. Saveur has an all-fruit-juice version.

Sandi: Nope, not the same thing, but I’ll never turn down a good sangria. Have you tried making white-wine sangria? It’s a great drink for a lazy brunch.

Cookie: Orale, homegirl. Mi casa es su casa.

Posted on 06.03.07 at 10:26AM

Comment by Chubbypanda

Interesting. Whatcha think of using blood oranges with this?

Posted on 06.04.07 at 2:05PM

Pingback by Jeffrey Morgenthaler » How to Make Sangrita

[...] While this is far from the final word on sangrita – I’ll still continue to enjoy the tomato varieties (1,2,3), I think you’ll find a brightness and depth of flavor from this version that plays better with a wider variety of mezcals and tequilas than its heavier gringo cousin. [...]

Posted on 06.10.08 at 3:07AM

Comment by elizabeth murphy

I recently discovered sangrita from reading best seller John D. MacDonald’s “Dress Her In Indigo” (pg. 29) published in 1969, part of the fantastic Travis McGee adventure series. While on a case in Oaxaca Mexico, Travis & Meyer drank tequilla afiejo commemorativo with chasers of “tomato juce, citrus juices, with several varieties of peppers and spices”. MacDonald wrote “The chaser’s full name is sangrita de la viuda, which means for some reason I yet to learn,”little blood of the widow”. So I guess some Mexicans have been using tomato juice for a long time. I highly recommend the drink and especially the books!

Posted on 07.08.08 at 7:42AM

Comment by Julie

My husband and I were in Mexico last week and this was served in three shot glasses. The first was fresh lime juice, the second was the teq, and the 3rd was the Sangrita during a teq tasting. They explained we should take a sip starting with the lime juice and ending with the Sangrita – refreshing!

Posted on 07.20.08 at 8:40AM

Comment by W.D.(Expo)Lapointe

My ride to Tequila,Jalisco never showed, so I’m sure I missed my best chance for authenic sangrita, but I sure did aquire an addiction to the gallons of the tomato based version I found in Oaxaca City! My neighbourhood here in Nova Scotia love my home grown version and brought lots of tequila to my door just to share with my extra picante sangrita. See you in Puerto Escondido this winter and please bring some Don Julio and no mescal!! Expo

Posted on 08.24.08 at 7:06PM

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