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Melissa Guerra: Three Ways to Make Spicy Sangrita

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Editor’s note: Melissa Guerra, author, rancher and television personality, owns a kitchen goods store at the Pearl Brewery Full Goods building. On Saturday, items from her store, Tienda de Cocina, will be on sale along with many other items at the first Pearl Breezeway Sale. The sale is 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The Pearl Brewery is at 200 E. Grayson St.

At 11 a.m., Guerra will present a demonstration on making the drink called sangrita, a chaser or mixer that can be made several ways using lime, tomato, orange or even pomegranate juice, and a dash of hot sauce.  It is customarily consumed  with tequila. Below, Guerra shares with SavorSA her introduction to this drink that originated in the Mexican state, Jalisco.

The Story of Sangrita (not to be confused with “sangria”)

Some of the ingredients for a sangrita include lime and/or orange juice, hot sauce, fresh tomato juice or even pomegranate juice. Sangrita is a chaser for sipping with tequila.

I remember visiting my aunt about 30 years ago in Cuernavaca (has it been that long?), and was intrigued by a lurid orange beverage she was drinking out of a small glass. It was sangrita, a traditional mixer enjoyed with tequila. The name translates as “something blood colored” or “little blood.” (Sangria, of course, is a fruity Spanish punch made with red wine.)

At the time, I thought my aunt was drinking a punch, but she assured me I would not like it. It was for grown ups. She was enjoying a commercial mix (thus the horrible color), but I asked what was it made of. She said she didn’t know, so for years, I wondered what it tasted like.

Tequila is from the Mexican state Jalisco. Lake Chapala is the most famous weekend resort in Jalisco, where sangrita originated.  Imagine sitting under a palm-thatched cabana enjoying a cool breeze blowing over the lake water, and enjoying tiny sips tequila and sangrita on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I imagine my aunt was waxing nostalgic for one of those afternoons as we sat on her veranda in Cuernavaca.

Here are three recipes that I have developed.  No bizarre artificial colors or flavors.  I think grenadine would have been the original pomegranate flavor, as it was a mixer all of the bars around Lake Chapala would have had on hand in the 1940s and 1950s. Try some of the 100 percent pomegranate juices that are on the market now, for a richer pomegranate flavor.

— Melissa Guerra

Photo by Bonnie Walker

Sangrita with Pomegranate Juice

If you have a sour orange tree in your yard, use sour orange juice in this recipe instead of the lime juice, for a more authentic mixture.  If you don’t, Mexican limes are a good flavor approximation.

1 ounce freshly squeezed Mexican lime juice
1 ounce real pomegranate juice ( look for Pom brand or substitute grenadine for a sweeter flavor)
½ ounce freshly squeezed orange juice (about a tablespoon)
2-3 drops Tabasco sauce

Combine ingredients and chill. Serve in a shot glass alongside a shot of premium tequila.

Makes 2 shots.

Sangrita Recipe with Fresh Tomato Juice

The key to this recipe is fresh tomato juice, from a red, ripe fully flavored summer tomato. Who says getting that a serving of vegetables has to be a chore?

1 ounce fresh tomato juice, skin and seeds strained out
½ ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1 ounce freshly squeezed Mexican or Key lime juice
2-3 drops Tabasco sauce

Combine ingredients and chill. Serve in a shot glass alongside a shot of premium tequila.

Makes 2 shots.

How to Serve a Bandera

A bandera is a flag. The shot glasses of green lime juice, red Sangrita, and the white tequila make a lovely presentation, honoring the colors of the Mexican flag. Some might even salute.

1 shot glass premium tequila
1 shot glass freshly squeezed lime juice
1 shot glass Sangrita
Small dish of salt (preferably sea salt or kosher salt)

Makes 1 Bandera.

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