Everything Tastes Better Outside

May 3, 2007

It’s finally warm enough to eat outside in Chicago, and that means that restaurants, cafes, and bars are opening up their patios and setting up tables on every available inch of outside space.  In a city that only has pleasant al fresco dining weather from May-September, people clamor to eat and drink in the great outdoors. 

In honor of the fabulous weather, here is my authentic sangria recipe.  A pitcher of ruby red sangria is truly one of the finest possible outdoor libations, so go pick up some cheap red wine and lots of fruit and get to mixing.

You will need:

A large pitcher or other container for the sangria.  I suggest something transparent so you can enjoy the attractive hue of the finished product.

Plenty of red wine.  In Spain, it’s usually made with cheap Rioja, but here in the States, I use two buck chuck from Trader Joe’s.  This is not the time to invest in a nice bottle.  White sangria, although sometimes delicious, is the Americanized cousin of the real stuff.

7-up or Sprite.  You can use the diet versions if you want, but there’s enough calories in the rest of the ingredients to negate their effects.  In Spain, they use Casera, which is a citrusy clear soda.

Sugar.  Yup, diet soda is definitely a waste of time.

Triple Sec or Cointreau – some kind of orange flavored liqueur.  I once used Stoli O (orange flavored vodka) in a pinch.  Learn from my mistake.

Fruit – green apples, oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines – pretty much any citrus fruit you have available is A-okay.  I’ve also added mango, kiwi, and different kinds of berries to no ill effect, but then you’re getting away from the whole authentic thing.

The secret ingredient: a cinnamon stick.  Do not use the brownish powder that’s been moldering in your spice drawer, find a grocery store that sells the actual sticks.  You only need one for a gallon or so of sangria.

You will mix:

First of all, it’s best to let sangria sit for about 24 hours so all the flavors can meld.  So plan ahead.  Next, you want to achieve a 3:1 ratio with the wine and soda (3 parts wine to 1 part soda), so combine those and add sugar to taste.  I only use a little, but I’m not a fan of ultra sweet things, so adjust accordingly.  Then add the orange liqueur – about one shot for every liter of wine you used.  More if you’re trying to get someone drunk.  Finally, cut up all the fruit into bite sized pieces (do not peel it! the rinds add flavor) and toss it in, along with the cinnamon stick.  Keep it refrigerated overnight, and enjoy! 

Sangria tastes best when it’s shared, so make a lot and have a party.

Note: I’m a horrible cook and baker (can you tell I hate to measure?) but I can mix excellent sangria.  My parents must be so proud.

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One Response to “Everything Tastes Better Outside”

  1. […] out there – and if you’re in need of some kind of treat, please refer to my delicious sangria recipe here, which I developed after extensive testing in Spain.  It’s cheap and easy to make, and […]

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