A festive season deserves a festive beverage. And it doesn’t get much more festive than sangría, the Spanish wine punch that is fruity, just a bit sweet, just a bit dry and ever-so-slightly fizzy. To help with your holiday party planning, we scored a classic recipe from Sangría 71 in Williston Park, one of the most authentic — and styling — Spanish restaurants on Long Island.
Sangría — the name is said to derive from sangre, the Spanish word for blood because of the red color — goes back to the times when water supplies were unreliable sources of clean drinking water. The alcohol in wine killed the bacteria in the water and made it safe to drink. The addition of fruit and flavorings made it more appealing. Even kids were served the stuff.
These kinds of punches were common around the wine-producing world, but in Spain it became a national drink. And while some version was probably consumed in the United States in the 1700s or before, its first formal presentation in this country was at the Pavillion of Spain at the 1964 World Fair.
Sangría has proved adaptable and remained popular. And while there are many, many ways to go with this drink, one of my favorites is the classic version from Sangría 71.
Sangría has proved adaptable and remained popular. And while there are many, many ways to go with this drink — it gets flavored with mango, pomegranate, peach, you name it — one of my favorites is the classic version from Sangría 71, which will open a branch in Commack on January 5, 2015.
Rosendo Fernández, who with his brother José, opened Sangría 71 two years ago, was able to take a few minutes from the holidays and the imminent opening of the second location to share his recipe — which is just about the same as the one at Café Español on Bleecker Street where they got their start. You’ll learn more about the family and their restaurants in the next issue of Edible.
“In most places it’s just fruit, soda and wine,” Rosendo says. “They don’t put brandy in it because that’s expensive. But for me, the brandy makes the sangría. It cuts away some of the sweetness.” His customers agree. “The sangría is our biggest seller by far,” he says. “People like it with their food — both the white and the red pair very well with food — but also people who are just at the bar order it too.”
Rosendo Fernández says not to break the bank with your wine and brandy. “You can get a bottle of Rioja for $8-$10 that will be fine. One bottle should be enough for a pitcher of sangría. For the brandy, go with Torres, Fundador or Felipe II, something not too pricey.”
So as you plan your holiday party, consider sangría. The recipe is easy to make and easy to love.
Sangría Clásica from Sangría 71
(makes one pitcher)
4-6 oz. Spanish brandy
3-4 oz. triple sec or orange-based liquor
2-3 Tbs sugar
Slices apples and oranges
4-6 oz. club soda
One bottle (750ml) red or white Spanish wine (for red, Rosendo suggests a tempranillo; for white he recommends verdejo)
The night before you plan to serve the sangría, mix the brandy, triple sec, sugar and fruit in a bowl and leave overnight. Just before you plan to serve, stir mix to make sure the sugar has dissolved. Transfer to a pitcher, add the wine and club soda and serve over ice.
71 Hillside Avenue
Williston Park, NY 11596
1095 Jericho Turnpike
Commack, NY 11725