|A SPEED TASTING WITH A
traditional Sangria is a punch made with red wine, fresh seasonal fruit and a bit of bubbly water or citrus-flavored soda. But we challenged each of our invitation-only brands to spin off their own version of Sangria as a perfect-for-springtime creation. There were no rules to mix, shake or spin by. Given free rein with today’s hottest spirits, the brands’ creative mixologists showed us just how flexible—and how fabulous—the modern Sangria can be!
Harry Denton’s Starlight Room at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco is a historic setting with an unbeatable view of the City.
THE PANEL: Back row, left to right: Joel Teitelbaum, Bar Manager, Harry Denton’s Starlight Room; Trudy Thomas, Food & Beverage Director, JW Marriot Camelback Inn, Scottsdale; Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist; Erik Adkins, Bar Manager, The Slanted Door, San Francisco. Front row: Oliver Lee, Bar Manager, Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco; Meridith May, Executive Editor/Publisher, The TASTING PANEL MAGAZINE; Bridget Alpert, Director of Mixology, Southern Wine & Spirits, Chicago; Anthony Dias Blue, Editor in Chief, The TASTING PANEL MAGAZINE; and Ted Carmon, Spirits Buyer, BevMo!
A Zen Approach
THE SANGRIA: “The Mirage”
Mixologist Carlos Yturria runs the bar programs at San Francisco venues Town Hall and E&O Trading Company.
THE BRAND: Campari (Campari America)
• 1 oz. Campari
• 1 oz. Pisco
• ½ oz. lemon-pineapple-sage purée (homemade)
• ¼ oz. lemon juice
• ¼ oz. reduction of ginger and lemongrass
• Garnish with lemon shrub.
Mixologist Carlos Yturria used the sweet-bitter character of classic Italian apéritif Campari—which he refers to as an orange-rind saltiness—and added a global array of flavors: Kappa Pisco for weight, texture and a grape-base; and ginger and lemongrass garnished with a lemon shrub for Asian flair (Yturria oversees the bar program at Asian-fusion E&O Trading Company in San Francisco).
“A personal favorite: the flavors—sweet and bitter and tangy—are restrained with balance.” —Oliver Lee
“If God made pink lemonade, it would taste like this.” —Erik Adkins
Jennifer Russick is a bartender at Michael Mina in San Francisco.
THE SANGRIA: “Jailers Southern Peach”
THE BRAND: Jailers Premium Tennessee Whiskey (Capital Brands LLC/Tennessee Spirits Co.)
• 1 oz. Jailers Premium Tennessee Whiskey
• ½ oz. lime juice
• ½ oz. clementine juice
• 1½ oz. reduction of Spanish dessert wine
• Frozen purée of peaches steeped in ras el hanout (a Moroccan spice mix of orange peel, lavender, allspice and cinnamon)
• Top with cava and garnish with lime.
The launch of Jailers is a new spirit celebration that begins with aged, 86-proof Tennessee whiskey, chill-filtered for exceptional clarity and taste and a polished finish. Michael Mina SF bartender Jennifer Russick played on the brand’s Southern theme and brought out the fruity notes of this aromatic whiskey with the use of a dessert wine and a peach purée frozen into a block.
“The balance of tangy fruit and spice in a lushly textured cocktail was lovely; the vanilla and whiskey notes were a pure treat.” —Anthony Dias Blue
“Jailers is a clean, young whiskey with just the right base for the peach and dessert wine to interact.”
Northern California mixologist Shane McKnight performs in front of the panel.
A Silver Tongue
THE SANGRIA: “The Plata Modernista”
THE BRAND: Sauza Hornitos Plata Tequila (Beam Inc.)
• 1 oz. Sauza Hornitos Plata tequila infused with green cardamom
• 1 oz. Spanish Albarino
• ¼ oz. organic agave nectar
• 2 oz. puréed and strained pineapple
• ½ oz. fresh ginger
• 6 leaves fresh mint
• “Medium rare” shake and top with 1 oz. Spanish cava. Garnish with fresh pineapple, mint sprig and “spanked” cardamom pad.
San Francisco mixologist Shane McKnight gave us a lesson on the art of infusing with botanicals. After tasting “the naked reflection” of Sauza Hornitos Tequila, he told the panel, “This is a perfect platform for cardamom to show the complexity of the spirit.” McKnight’s housemade syrup seemed labor-intensive, but when prepared ahead, it will impress with flavors of springtime.
“A masterpiece of fruit and savoriness.” —Meridith May
“The cava added texture with the fizz component; the drink was fragrant and the presentation was elegant and festive.” —Tony Abou-Ganim
Russell Davis was the mixology mind behind this French-inspired Sangria.
THE SANGRIA: “French Mistress”
THE BRANDS: Absinthe and Junipero Gin (Anchor Distilling)
• 750 ml. Absinthe
• 50 ml. oxidized Absinthe
• 50 ml. Junipero Gin
• 1 teaspoon Scharffen Berger Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
• Zest from 1 orange, 1 lime, and 1 lemon
• ½ cup red grapes (sliced in half)
• ½ cup raspberries
• Combine Absinthe, Junipero Gin and cocoa powder, stir, cover tightly and let sit in a refrigerator overnight. Strain using a cheesecloth and a tea strainer. Zest a lemon, lime and orange using a vegetable peeler. Macerate sliced grapes, raspberries and zest in strained Junipero/Absinthe for five days in refrigerator. Strain using a fine strainer and pour over cubed ice, reserving the grapes. Allow the drink to bruise (sit in the ice) for a bit before serving. Garnish with a mint sprig, lemon wheel and grapes.
Fortified with white wine, Absinthe is a French-made apéritif created in the late 1800s that came to the forefront in 1906. With ingredients including cherry pits, almond notes and quinine, Absinthe’s bittersweet quality was sought out by San Fran mixologist Russell Davis. In fact, Davis is such a fan of the brand that he decided to macerate the spirit with red grapes and 100% cacao dark chocolate for five days to bring out more of a red wine quality to his Sangria.
The handmade, San Francisco-produced Junipero gin has 12 botanicals that possesses a dry, spicy perfume and in this drink, creates a snappy finish.
“Mysterious, dark and sensual flavors are woken up by bright citrus notes.” —Meridith May
“Beautiful presentation and a complex drink: at first astringent but then refreshing, cooling and fruity.” —Ted Carmon
“A classic!” —Tony Abou-Ganim
Yael Amyra mixes at the Acme Bar in Berkeley.
THE SANGRIA: “Three Vines”
THE BRAND: Campo de Encanto Pisco (Haas Brothers)
• 1½ oz. Campo de Encanto Acholado Pisco
• 1½ oz. blackberry-ginger nectar
• 1½ oz. Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon (or any lighter, fruitier Cab)
• ½ oz. cream sherry
• ½ oz. grapefruit juice
• ½ oz. lime juice
• Garnish with ginger, lime and grapefruit wheel.
For her Three Vines Sangria, mixologist Yael Amyra worked closely with Campo de Encanto President Walter Moore to connect the dots between Spain (for the Sangria theme), Peru (the origin of pisco) and California.
“Pisco is the connection from Spain to Peru to California,” Moore attests.
“Encanto is the pisco of the people, blended for bartenders by bartenders,” says Moore. “Every quaff of Campo de Encanto Pisco brings it all together: Peru and San Francisco, old-vine grapes and the boom of the Gold Rush, the refinement of America’s first spirit sipped quietly and the kick-in-the-teeth euphoria of a Barbary Coast saloon.”
“This is a great example of ‘grape-on-grape’ Sangria—that’s what it’s about. That little bit of background spice and the refreshing quality make it complex and hearty.”
“There’s a wonderful progression of flavor, from pisco to ginger to the soft Cab, and finishing with the sherry. A modern version of mulled wine and Sangria!”