Sangria was something I dabbled with in New York but fully embraced when we moved to Stamford–many a weekend during the spring and summer months would I make a big pitcher for us to sip on, often relaxing out on our balcony. My sangria-making frequency went down significantly since we moved to Baltimore, likely because we’ll spend many weekends either traipsing around the city looking for fun or we’re on the road to visit people.
Over the Fourth of July holiday, though, I had a hankering for the stuff and decided to take some inspiration from José Andrés; his white sangria from Made in Spain is what he serves at Jaleo, and the fact that it’s based on cava meant that I absolutely had to give it a try. After a few days of entertaining family visitors, it was definitely time to relax and sip on something light and refreshing while we went to the task of making dinner.
The one downside of sangria is that it might call for ingredients that otherwise might not get much use in your kitchen, and that’s when I would encourage you to rely less on a recipe and more on what you have (as well as what tastes good). José’s recipe calls for a vanilla liqueur and brandy; having neither of those I improvised with a little grapefruit moonshine and pisco brandy. When I picked out fruit to include I didn’t intend to go with a red, white, and blue theme (I was focused on fruit that looked good and was ripe enough), but in retrospect it did make for a nice nod to the holiday.
The bubbles in the cava give this cocktail a slight edge over an ordinary white sangria, and the advice to pour the cava along the sides of the pitcher in order to preserve the bubbles is a good one that works very well. There are still plenty of hot days left this season, and I’m going to make the most of them by making more of this; we may not have a balcony any more, but we do have a stoop that’s perfect for sitting on while enjoying a refreshing cocktail.
adapted from Made in Spain by José Andrés
Makes one pitcher
- 2 cups fresh chopped fruit, such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, white grapes, nectarines, or peaches
- 1/4 cup white grape juice (I happened to have some leftover grapes in the fridge that I blitzed with the immersion blender and strained which worked really well with a pinch of sugar)
- 1/4 cup pisco brandy
- 1/4 cup grapefruit moonshine
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar (basically to taste)
- 1 fresh mint sprig
Combine the fruit, juice, brandy and moonshine into a large pitcher; stir well to combine. Add the cava, pouring the wine down the sides of the pitcher in order to preserve the bubbles. Add sugar, if needed, to taste and then add the mint sprig. Add some ice to chill, and serve immediately.