Memorial Day being the official start of summer eating and drinking, make this stellar recipe for sangria my contribution to your enjoyment. I watched the bartender make this version at a terrific seaside hotel in the Costa Brava of Spain last year, and it's become a warm-day favorite around our house (on those few days when late-afternoon temperatures rise in San Francisco).
It had been a warm day driving around the area of Costa Brava, visiting Salvador Dalí sights. Returning to the Parador de Aiguablava at happy hour, my wife and I plunked ourselves down in the lobby bar with a stunning view of the little bays cut into the shoreline mountains. Resisting a refreshing cava or my usual gin-and-tonic (which seems to have become the national libation of Catalonia), we ordered sangria.
The bartender set to work. Since we requested this three more times while we were there, I noted exactly what he did.
Sangria for Two
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 2 ounces Triple Sec
• 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
• 1 1/2 cups ice cubes or crushed ice
• 1 or 2 slices each orange, grapefruit, lime, lemon
• 1/2 of a 750ml bottle of Grenache-based red wine
• 1/4 cup sparkling wine
In a quart or liter pitcher, combine the sugar, Triple Sec and orange juice. Mix it well to dissolve the sugar, and scoop in the ice cubes and the slices of orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime. Stir in the wine. Choose a dark, fruity young red wine, such as a Spanish wine made from Garnacha. The barkeep finished it off with a generous splash of cava, a Spanish sparkling wine. This can easily be increased proportionally.
We whiled away a very happy hour, lolling on soft sofas, entranced with the light glinting off the Mediterranean, and the birds swooping around the cliffs. We sipped this sangria along with nibbles of Marcona almonds and freshly made patatas bravas (fried potato chunks topped with a spicy tomato sauce and aioli).
To be sure, I am well aware that surroundings can influence how much we like a wine, or in this case a wine drink. I've made this sangria a number of times since returning home. Even thousands of miles from the seaside view and the patatas bravas, the drink always brings a smile. Let it lift your next home happy hour.