Eleanor's Sangria

It's almost Cinco de Mayo, and while that means very little here in Scotland, I still miss the days of bottomless salsa and endless sangria that always came along with Cinco back in the US. Growing up in Florida will definitely teach you how to appreciate a cold drink on a hot summer day, and let's be real, in Florida, those hot summer days are all year round.

I, however, have always been slightly indifferent to restaurant-purchased sangria. I mean, let's be real: it's usually all apples, which don't impart any flavour (or juice) onto the wine, and it's usually watered down and too sweet from melted ice or, heaven forbid, 7Up that's been added to cut it. Every summer since Judson and I met, though, I've been making black and white sangria for his birthday in July. It's a melange of two recipes I found, and it's basically white wine, white peaches, black cherries, a wee bit of sugar, lemon juice, and triple sec. It's incredibly good on a day at the pool in Georgia, where the peaches are so soft you can spread them on toast. But it's a pain to make. The peaches have to be de-stoned, peeled, and chunked, and the cherries have to be individually pitted and halved, which means that ultra-simple recipe takes at least an hour or two of prep on the night before you want to drink it. This recipe is much simpler, more traditional, and just as beautiful.

Eleanor's recipe for sangria is so stained with red wine it's barely legible (there's a note next to 'brandy' that I can't read, but it ends with 'very quiet,' and I can't fathom what THAT could possibly be about), and she recommends making it with her own '3 ½ tablespoon wooden spoon,' which might take the cake as the single most useless piece of cooking advice to which I have ever borne witness. Furthermore, I'm thinking the recipe might have been written down after imbibing a few glasses of the sangria, because it's more or less useless in terms of quantities, timing, and order. I did my best to follow the directions, and while I know I got all of the ingredients right, the quantities were anyone's guess. Judson thought my batch was a bit too sweet, I thought it could have been a bit stronger, and the friend we shared it with, who had only had the terrible kind of sangria you drink in college, thought it was wonderful because it wasn't made with bottom-shelf rum. I've tweaked the below notes in accordance with our tastes, but final results will depend on the type of wine you use, the length of time you allow the fruit to soak, and how sweet you like your sangria.

But really: you should make this. It's Monday, you're probably enjoying one of the first weeks of good weather your locale has had in months, you need to practice before actual Cinco de Mayo rolls around, it's Star Wars Day!, you have a pile of fruit that you intended to put in last week's breakfast smoothes/banana bread and then forgot about, and come on, don't make me make up any more reasons for you.

Best part: if you're celebrating Cinco de Mayo on Tuesday, you don't even need to worry about making this the night before-- I made it on Friday as soon as I got home from work, and when we drank it about an hour later, it was already perfect.



The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. It's a perfect summery drink to pair with tacos, nachos, or just to enjoy by itself while you enjoy the fact that the sun doesn't set until well after 9pm this time of year. Enjoy!

The recipe:

Eleanor's Sangria


Pour sugar into the bottom of a large bowl.
Add fruit and press into the sugar firmly.
For each piece of fruit, you probably only used about half of the fruit, so squeeze the juice from the other half on top of the fruit.
Pour brandy on top of fruit, sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon, and let stand at room temperature for as long as you can, ideally at least an hour.
Pour about a cup of wine over fruit mixture and stir briskly to dissolve the remaining sugar.
Add the rest of the wine, stir, and serve in glasses filled with 'small ice.'

Serves 1 person if you're ready to party, 3 if you're feeling more chill.

the ingredients:

4 slices of unpeeled orange
4 slices of unpeeled lemon
4 slices of unpeeled apple
Optional: 2 slices of unpeeled grapefruit, one sliced, unpeeled clementine
¼ c sugar, or to taste
1/3 c brandy
1 bottle hearty burgundy
Ice to serve
A wooden spoon to stir, if you're into following the letter of the law.