Monday, March 25, 2013

Sangria, a social lubricant

I have to report that making friends is going well. I've been making an effort to go out and meet people and keep in touch with new Seattle friends that I meet (I could do better at keeping in touch with east coast friends, that is something I have to work on) and my reward is new friendships and acquaintances.

Saturday night I went to a meetup group get-together and I made my famous sangria.

This is less of a recipe and more of a "how I made it." The thing about Sangria is you've got to be creative, work with what you have, and no two batches will ever be exactly the same.

In my situation, I needed to make a big batch (I planned on 4 bottles of wine) and I needed to be able to carry it to the party without spilling it.  What I did was prep the fruit with the liquor so that I could carry it to the party (ok, fine, Jon carried it) and add wine at the party, topping it off as the night progressed.

Start with the fruit: Buy what looks good and is easily available. I went for a big variety. I used two lemons, two limes, two apples (one red and one green), two large oranges, a quart of strawberries and a small jar of maraschino cherries. Other fruit would've been great too though - pineapple maybe, or raspberries, but not mango, because I'm allergic to mango.

I zested and squeezed the lemons and added their zest and juice to a large pitcher. I squeezed the two limes into the pitcher. You can put a strainer over the top of the pitcher as you juice the lemon and limes so that no seeds sneak past you.  I cut up the apples into small wedges and threw them in the pitcher. I peeled the oranges and picked out the pits, then dropped the segments into the pitcher. I cut the green tops off the strawberries and chopped them up small and added them to the mix.

I usually like to use a sweet flavored brandy, like kirsch or liqueur but since I didn't have any, I dumped the whole little jar of maraschino cherries, syrup and all, into the pitcher. That did double duty as a fruit flavor and a sweetener.

Now for the liquor. As I said, I didn't have any kirsch. I picked up a 750 ml bottle of cheap brandy.
I also had a 750 ml bottle of Absolut SF, which is grape, dragon fruit and papaya flavored vodka. But you could use any flavors! I used about half of each of those bottles, poured them right on top of the fruit.  I stirred that all together and let it marinate in the fridge overnight.

Again, in an ideal world, I would have had the fruit and liquor marinating with the wine.  But I planned on bringing 4 bottles of wine to the party, and I just don't have any huge pitchers that could hold all of that.  Maybe in my next life I'll have one of these big beverage dispensers for this situation. But I can't imagine lugging this up the steep hill to the party either!




A note on selecting wine: go with cheap wine, but nothing too sweet. (Or, if you get a sweet wine, cut back on the flavored vodka and the sweet fruits.) Any kind of spanish red table wine is best. You could probably even buy one of of those big huge gallon jugs of wine - that would be great.  I bought 4 bottles of Red Guitar Sangria, which is a fruit flavored Spanish red wine, that I found at the bargain price of $1.99 each.  You can't beat that. I put the bottles of wine in the fridge the night before the party also.



On the day of the party, I brought one empty prettier glass pitcher to the party, plus the pitcher with the fruit and liquor plus 4 bottles of wine, a bottle of seltzer and a big bag of ice.  I poured about a quarter of the fruit & liquor mixture into the pitcher, one bottle of wine, and I topped it off with about a quarter of the bottle of seltzer (half liter) and a cup of ice.  I left a wooden spoon in the pitcher so people could control how much fruit they poured into their glass.

It was a hit at the party, and I periodically went back to it to add more of the fruit mixture, another bottle of wine, more seltzer, and more ice.  It was a hit!  And as it emptied, I noticed people were adding more wine that other party guests had brought, or adding the sangria fruit to glasses of other wine. All night, I got compliments on the sangria, and it really warmed people up in a room full of strangers/new friends!

But beware of those apples - they soaked up the liquor and got potent! Don't say I didn't warn you!


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