Tag Archive | "fiesta"

Francis Bogside Gets Into the Fiesta Spirit

Francis Bogside

Francis Bogside in Southtown, 803 S. St. Mary’s St., is celebrating the King William Fair with a Fiesta Meat Fest at noon Saturday.

For $12, you can visit the meat carving station for your choice of  veal leg, whole local chicken, jalapeno cheddar sausage and whole halibut as well as two side dishes. A la carte items include a Fiesta dog, Fiesta fruit salad and Fiesta funnel cake.

Cocktails and beer will also be available for purchase.

For more information, call 210-998-3063.

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Hats Off to the Brightest and Biggest NIOSA Hats

fried pinata hat

Is that a pinata on your head or are you just happy to see us?

A Night in Old San Antonio is a time to eat, drink and enjoy life while raising money for the city’s Conservation Society. It’s also a time when people let their imaginations run wild by wearing hats both great and small. Think of biting into an order of fried green tomatoes or a juicy brisket biscuit as you look through this array of hats as worn by guests and volunteers alike. And go enjoy NIOSA before it slips into memory.

fried gang

At the fried green tomato booth, Roland (left) and Sara Garza with Ryszard Debski display their best hats.

fried wreath

A traditional Fiesta and a traditional gimme cap.

fried egg

Did that hat lay an egg?

niosa gail

Spurs hats and the Chapel at La Villita. (Photo courtesy Gail Harwood)

fried niosa parade

A touch of history in hatwear.

fried hat1

Margarita? Mariachi? Beer? Sure, it’s NIOSA.

fried hat

A Tyrolean mountain climber’s hat complete with wine.

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A Night for Fried Green Tomatoes

A Night in Old San Antonio has returned. Are you ready to party?

Time to fry the green tomatoes.

Time to fry the green tomatoes.

Several thousand San Antonians certainly were as Tuesday night’s opener attracted large crowds of people hungry for anticuchos, Bongo K-Bobs, shrimp fingers or some other treat they only encounter once a year. And they wanted to wash it down with a cold beer or a cup of chilled Barefoot Bay wine. In other words, it was business as usual, which is the way San Antonio likes it.

After the parade that launches the four-day fundraiser for the San Antonio Conservation Society, the bands began to play, and soon lines were forming at various food booths throughout the various areas inside La Villita.

For the past 16 years, I have worked at a different food booth each year, helping make everything from calf fries and escargots to Shypoke Eggs and bean tacos. Most of those have been fairly large booths, with a dozen or so workers in assembly lines making sure every step of, say, preparing the fried mushrooms is followed before each basket of golden brown treats is re served to a waiting customer.

A customer at the fried green tomato booth.

A customer at the fried green tomato booth.

This year, however, I found myself at the fried green tomato booth deep in the heart of the Main Street U.S.A. section. This is a Southern specialty reintroduced to the dining public at large in the 1991 movie of the same name and the Fannie Flagg novel on which it was based, which had the longer title of “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.”

But no matter where you heard of the treat, there is no movie or book that can take the place of sampling one in real life. That said, only four or five of us were needed to keep turning out orders, even when demand was stready, which was true of most of the first half of the evening.

The booth is overseen by Roland and Sara Garza, who have made fried green tomatoes for the past 10 or 12 years. The exact amount of time they’ve volunteered isn’t important to them. The Garzas were more focused on making sure that everything was running smoothly and that there was little or no waiting on the part of the customers.

To do that, you start by slicing the tomatoes, which was made easy by an industrial slicer that provided cuts of equal width.

In the meantime, Roland would whisk up the thick batter with some water and pour it over the tomato slices.

Roland Garza (left) shows Jason Ornelas how to fry the tomatoes.

Roland Garza (left) shows Jason Ornelas how to fry the tomatoes.

For about 90 minutes or so, I then took the breaded slices and tossed them into a fryer that had been heated to 400 degree. It was then a matter of watching the slices sizzle and occasionally release some steam on their way to a beautiful golden brown. Occasionally, a slice would stick to the fry basket, but a good shake would release it, and all would eventually float to the surface while I monitored their progress.

Once they had drained, the slices of fried tomatoes were arranged in orders by Ryszard Debski, who handed them over to either Herlinda Arnold or Sara, who were serving the customers and collecting three tickets for each order.

Fairly simple, right?

Yes and no. You do have to keep tabs on how the orders were selling, so you could gauge how many fry baskets of tomatoes you needed in operation. That’s because the customers arrived in waves, and you didn’t want the tomatoes so hot that people would burn their fingers. You also didn’t want any leftovers that would be cold by the time they were sold. So, I would go back and forth between having two and four baskets frying at the same time.

The final product.

The final product.

And you don’t want to burn your fingers from hot oil splashing all over the place.

The booth’s best nights are Tuesday and Thursday. The opening evening always draws those customers who have waited all year for an order of fried green tomatoes, and one bite would convince you that there are a great many people who feel this way. The almost-too-hot-to-touch slices are crunchy on the outside, yet have a tangy center that the unripe tomato slice gives off. Heating it also releases a little sweetness. Of course, slathering some ranch dressing and sprinkling a little salt on top never hurt anything, either.

The grease is what draws people on Thursday nights, Roland says. That night is usually full of college students consuming copious amounts of beer. They need a little grease and carbohydrates to absorb some of the alcohol, he says, so they seek out the fried green tomatoes for a little relief.

Green tomato slices..

Green tomato slices..

On both of those nights, the booth will go through two or more cases of green tomatoes. After 90 minutes Tuesday, Roland had to fetch another case. The clear, breezy night weather was made for this uniquely American treat, and the ticket bucket was filling up.

By then the second shift of Jacqueline Treviño, a three-year veteran of the booth, and her fiance, newcomer Jason Ornelas, had shown up, and Roland had to teach another newcomer the fine art of frying up green tomato slices.

I moved to the front of the line then and was able to talk to quite a few customers, many of whom shared their fried green love stories. There were even some repeat customers in line.

“I just have to have these,” one lady said. “It’s not NIOSA without them.”

After my own basket of these beauties, I have to agree. I’ll be back.

NIOSA continues through Friday. For more information on the event, click here.

Sara and Roland Garza (left and center) catch up withAnn Mercer, former booth chairman and soon to be chair of the whole Main Street U.S.A. section of NIOSA.

Sara and Roland Garza (left and center) catch up withAnn Mercer, former booth chairman and soon to be chair of the whole Main Street U.S.A. section of NIOSA.





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Take the Family out for Some Fiesta Fun

The San Antonio Tourism Council is hosting its first Family Fiesta 101.

The penguins are coming -- to Viola's Ventanas.

The penguins are coming — to Viola’s Ventanas.

It’s happening this Sunday at Viola’s Ventanas, 9660 Westover Hills Blvd. It runs from 4 to 8 p.m.

Part of the fun is that the San Antonio Zoo is bringing an eagle, a large boa plus frogs. Fiesta Texas will have their Looney Tunes characters. Schlitterbahn is bringing games for the kids and their mascot. The Buckhorn is sending a roper, and Sea World will have their penguins there from 5 to 7 p.m.

Henry Brun will also be on hand to perform.

“Have your camera ready,” says Diana Barrios Treviño, owner of the restaurant. “It is going to be a blast!”

The price of the event is $25 and includes a chicken fajita buffet with a non-alcoholic beverage. Kids 6 and younger are free. A cash bar will be available.

This event benefits the San Antonio Food Bank. Donations of non-perishable food will  also be accepted.

For tickets, click here.


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Drink Up National Tequila Day with Your Choice of Cocktails

Cucumber Mint Margarita

Cucumber Mint Margarita

July 24 is National Tequila Day. To help you celebrate this august occasion, we’re offering four recipes of tequila cocktails that range from the simple, single cocktail to a pitcher-sized party mix.

Some are from Texas. Others are just spiced as if they’re from here. And all are worth a sip or three.

Cucumber Mint Margarita

A lively dose of Tabasco Sauce gives this cool, refreshing margarita a little kick. Enjoy the ride.

1/2 cup chopped cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup key lime juice
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/3 cup tequila reposado
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
6 ice cubes
Salt to rim glasses
2 cucumber slices for garnish

Blend ingredients in a blender for 1 minute. Divide between two 6-ounce salt-rimmed glasses. Garnish each glass with a cucumber slice.

Makes 2 cocktails.

Raspberry Picante Paloma Pitchers

Guy on FireThis recipe comes from Guy Fieri’s latest cookbook, “Guy on Fire” (William Morrow, $29.99). As Fieri says, “Oh yeah! This is one they won’t forget. I can hear it now — “Yeah! The drink had raspberries and jalapeños, and it as so the bomb!”

12  fresh raspberries
4 thin slices jalapeño pepper
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) tequila, preferably 100 percent blue agave tequila blanco
1 1/2 cups fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 1/4 cups club soda or lemon-lime soda

Grapefruit Salt:
1/4 cup kosher salt
Grated zest of 1 grapefruit
Lime wedges, for garnish

In a glass pitcher, muddle the raspberries and jalapeño, then fill halfway with ice. Add the tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice and agave. Take a second pitcher (the same size) and pour one into the other repeatedly to mix the drink together. Top it off with club soda or lemon-lime soda.

To make the grapefruit salt, crush the salt and grapefruit zest together with a mortar and pestle, then spread on a plate. Run a lime wedge around the rim of each glass, then dip the glasses in the grapefruit salt. Fill with the cocktails.

Prep-ahead tip: Make the base recipe (minus the club soda) in big battches, up to a day ahead, and hold it in the fridge, so when the party is on, all you need to do is pour (rather than stand behind the bar making drinks all night). Just top off each glass with club soda while you’re serving so the drinks stay nice and effervescent.

Makes 6-8 servings.

From “Guy on Fire” by Guy Fieri with Ann Volkwein

Matt’s Old Fashioned

Tipsy TexanThis twist on a classic cocktail comes from David Alan’s “Tipsy Texan: Spirits and Cocktails from the Lone Star State” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $19.99). It was inspired by a Texas classic, he writes: “For generations of Austinites, dining at Matt’s El Rancho has been a tradition that has often begun in utero. This tequila Old Fashioned variation is a tribute to that venerable temple of Tex-Mex.”

2 ounces añejo tequila
1/2 ounce elderflower liqueur
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Dash of orange bitters

Using a swivel-handled vegetable peeler, remove a strip of lemon peel and a strip of orange peel from the respective fruits over an Old Fashioned glass, allowing the peels to fall into the glass and capturing as much essential oil as possible. Add the tequila, elderflower liqueur and both bitters. Fill the glass with ice, preferably in large chunks. Stir using a bar spoon to integrate and dilute.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From “The Tipsy Texan” by David Alan

Juan’s Tequila Sour

You’ll have to hunt through used bookstores probably to find a copy of the 1978 edition of “Fiesta,” the Junior League of Corpus Christi’s cookbook. It’s worth the hunt. Until you find a copy, here’s a taste of Juan’s Tequila Sour, as contributed by Mrs. John W. Creveling Jr. (Judy Hoepfner).

2 ounces tequila
2 ounces simple syrup
2 ounces fresh lime juice

Mix the tequila, syrup and lime juice. The proportions may be varied to suite individual tastes. Serve over cracked ice.

Makes 1 serving.

From “Fiesta” by the Junior League of Corpus Christi

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Spring Warm-up: Openings, Events, Tastings, Fun

Rosario's new Panela cheese, grilled and topped with two salsas.

Rosario’s new queso Panela, grilled and topped with two salsas.

Three much-anticipated restaurants open soon.

First, Rosario’s, at 3715 San Pedro Ave., will open Monday (March 31) for lunch and dinner. Enjoy the dishes and drinks you love at the downtown Rosario’s on Alamo Street, plus some new items. We sampled some favorites and the new grilled panela cheese with two salsas, seviche, a Rosario’s burger (complete with chalupa inside and some real good fries) and more at a soft opening Thursday night.

Hot Joy, opening at the former location of China Latina, will open April 3. The restaurant is at 1014 S. Alamo St.

Aldaco’s Dominion will also be opening in April, but toward the end of the month.

Conger’s Smoke Shack food truck announced they will move to a brick-and-mortar location. This will be at 3714 Broadway. A skip and a jump near the Pearl, and across the street from the Witte Museum. Will they still be setting up shop at Quarry Farmers and Ranchers Market?  No, says Heather Hunter, but they will be there this coming Saturday for one last round of great barbecue.  Chela’s Tacos, which has been there the past couple of weeks, will be taking over that post.

Travis Park and St. Anthony Hotel

St. Anthony Hotel garden.

St. Anthony Hotel garden.

Join The St. Anthony Hotel Monday (March 31) to celebrate the Grand Reopening of the historic Travis Park. The vibrant greens of spring and the new visions and plans for Travis Park will be honored for a full day.  At 9:30 a.m. the hotel participates with Southwest Airlines President and CEO Gary Kelly and other contributors to restore the park and invite you to join them.

This will be followed in the evening (6 p.m.) by farm-fresh foods crafted by  St. Anthony chef, Mike Mata, paired with wines from Becker Vineyards, and the soft sounds of Brent Watkins’ live jazz for Twilight on the Plaza.

Crawfish at Lüke

Celebrate crawfish season in true style this Sunday (March 30) at Lüke San Antonio downtown. From  3 p.m to 6 p.m at the restaurant at 125 E. Houston St., it will be not just lots of crawfish crawfish1but also savory sides such as crawfish boil potato salad, boiled “corn in a cup,” and Poteet strawberry shortcake for dessert. St. Arnold Brewery will be the featured beer for washing down those crawfish.

The event is all you can eat and drink, for $48 per person.  Call them at (210) 227-5853. See their event page at


King and Queen Anchovy Poker Run

Michael Westheimer and Elaine Wolffe have a party planned and you’re invited. Saturday, April 5, is the King and Queen Anchovy Poker Run.

Poker handHere are the attractions: Five restaurants, five bites, five drinks and (most important) five cards.

The best hands will win prizes, including tickets to Cornyation and gift certificates to the participating restaurants: Bite, The Monterey, The Brooklynite, Cured and Minnie’s.

The fun starts at  1 p.m. at Bite. The cost is $50; chefs are donating their hospitality so proceeds go to support Fiesta Cornyation.

Check out the Facebook page here and make reservations soon.

Baby grapesSummer events coming up at Becker Vineyards

The new outdoor pavillion is open now at Becker Vineyards, in the Texas Hill Country. The pavillion oversees the lavender field, plus new outdoor restroom facilities are available, too. Don’t forget the winery’s 16th annual Lavender Festival, with lavender luncheons, vendors selling lavender and gardening-related items, lavender cooking demos and more. Plus there will be, of course, wine tastings. The event is May 3 and 4. Go to their website here for more information.

April means Hornitos tequila at La Fogata

Aldaco MargaritaLa Fogata knows tequila — and mixes no fewer than 300 gallons of their tequila concoctions each week. La Fogata features monthly tequila tastings to allow its guests to explore different tequila flavors and enjoy special cocktails crafted by their experienced bar staff.

April’s featured tequila is Hornitos. On Saturday, April 19,  before you head to your table, stop by the tequila tasting table to learn more about Hornitos tequila. The free tasting table will feature the tequila served both straight up and mixed in margaritas. The tasting table will be open on La Fogata’s main patio from 6-8 p.m. La Fogata is at 2427 Vance Jackson Road.

If you can’t make the tequila tasting, don’t worry:  La Fogata is featuring Hornitos throughout the month of April, so you have the opportunity to try the tequila by ordering it in your favorite drink at La Fogata.






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Confetti Eggs Add Color to Your Fiesta

Prepare a confetti of minced peppers and celery.

Fill ramekins with the confetti mix.

During Fiesta, many of us love to crack cascarones over friends’ heads, showering them with a colorful spray of confetti.

That was the inspiration for this easy egg dish, which you can serve at a brunch or at a buffet.

You can play around with the ingredients to get the flavor and the color combination you want, including a serrano or a green bell pepper for a dark green. You could add finely chopped olives or any other flavor you choose.

You could also add your choice of items such as crab meat, shrimp, cubes of ham, avocado or a variety of cheeses.

Confetti Eggs

Olive oil, butter or cooking spray
6 thin-cut slices salami
3-4 tablespoons butter
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, minced
1/2 orange bell pepper, minced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, minced
1 serrano,minced, or 1/2 green bell pepper, minced
Minced or thinly sliced celery
9-12 eggs, to taste
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Shredded cheese, such as cheddar or colby-Jack

Cook until the eggs reach your desired level of doneness.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat 6 ramekins with a touch of olive oil or butter, or spray with cooking spray. Place on a cooking tray.

Place a slice of salami at the bottom of each.

Melt butter  with your choice of onion, peppers and celery in a pan. Cook until the ingredients begin to turn soft. Dish as much of the mixture as you want into each ramekin, and reserve a little to garnish the servings after they’ve cooked.

Whisk the eggs until fluffy. Use as many as you’d like, from 1 1/2 to 2 per person. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add any herbs you may want, such as dill or herbes de Provence. Divide the egg mixture into the ramekins.

Sprinkle the top with shredded cheese.

Place in the oven. The cooking times on the dish will vary according to how well done you want the eggs, the size of the ramekin you use and how many eggs you use, but if you use 2 eggs per person, the cooking time will take about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle a little extra vegetable confetti on top, if desired, and serve immediately or on a brunch table.

The eggs will puff up when hot. They will deflate somewhat with time.

Makes 6 servings.

From John Griffin


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It’s Shuck, Rattle and Roll at Oyster Bake

Sausage on a stick is a favorite at the Oyster Bake.

Stuck on you: Chicken on a stick. Any questions?

The annual Fiesta Oyster Bake kicked off Friday evening with a host of musicians, plenty of food on a stick, and beer and wine to wash it down with.

Oysters baking over hot coals.

The two-day event, traditionally one of the bigger parties during Fiesta, takes place on the grounds of St. Mary’s University.

This year’s event got off to a rousing start, thanks to perfect weather in the mid- to lower 70s, a gentle breeze and a clear sky for the triumphal fireworks that ended the evening.

Somewhere in that mix you can find oysters three ways: raw and served in shots, baked over hot coals, and deep fried.

But it could be possible that foods on a stick were stealing the briny bivavles’ thunder, or at least threatening to do so. There was sausage on a stick, chicken on a stick, steak on a stick and a pork chop on a stick.

Warming tortillas for chalupas.

On Friday night, plenty of people were stopping by the wine booth to sample some of Barefoot Bay’s line of wines, including Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and, for sweet wine lovers, Moscato. That was where you could find me for the first half of the evening, pouring wine for the customers and trying to get people a wine they would enjoy.

Barefoot Bay made that easy for customers by offering some suggested pairings, such as the Pinot Grigio with the oysters or the Merlot with the sausage. For a change, the wine booth will be open on Saturday this year, so, if you make it out to the second day of the Oyster Bake, give the pairings a try.

Time to sort the oysters.

Beer drinkers had the choice of several fine beers, including Stella Artois and Beck’s, which were $1 more than the Bud Light, yet the line was practically nonexistent. Take a tip: Get the Stella Artois. It loves the oysters, the habanero salsa on the pork chop, the butter on the roasted ears of corn.

Armadillo Eggs, anyone?

Music choices for the evening included Smash Mouth performing a little ska mixed with its big hits, including “Walk on the Sun,” and Kevin Fowler on the country music stage. Jazz with a little surf sounds and a swinging version of “These Boots Were Made for Walking” filled the third stage.

The fun ended with a dazzling fireworks display that impressed the crowd, prompting a few old-timers to say it was the most impressive they had seen in years.

Fiesta Oyster Bake continues Saturday. For more information, click here.

For a full schedule of Fiesta events, click here.

Friday's opener closes with fireworks.

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Las Canarias, Ostra Have Seats for River Parade

Las Canarias at the Omni La Mansion del Rio, 112 College St., and Ostra at the Mokara, 212 W. Crockett St., are offering riverside specials for the upcoming Texas Cavalier’s Fiesta River Parade, which is set for April 23.

Dinner service will be from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. and will include several options:

  • Indoor dining includes a choice of à la carte or prix fixe dining with complimentary riverfront seating available at start of the parade.
  • Patio dining includes a choice of à la carte or prix fixe dining with a $100 food and beverage minimum per table.

The prix fixe menu begins with a choice of Martinez Farms Carrot Velouté with  Jumbo Lump Crab, Carrot Top Pesto and Curry Crème Fraiche or Arugula Salad with Poached Hen Egg, Black Pepper Candied Wisconsin Bacon and Champagne Vinaigrette, followed by a choice of Breast of Chicken with Black Trumpet Walnut Pesto and Broccolini or Creekstone Farms Braised Beef with Celeriac Yukon Potato Purée, Heirloom Carrots and Parsley Coulis. Dessert is Tres Leches Cheesecake with Pineapple Kiwi Relish, Prickly Pear and Almonds. The cost of the meal is $65 a person, or $90 with matching wines.

Chef John Brand is also offering a five-course tasting menu with matching wines for $100 a person.

Reservations must be guaranteed with a credit card and confirmed three business days prior to the event. Cancellation fees will be charged when cancelled, if applicable.

For reservations, call (210) 518-1063.

River-view seating without dining is available for purchase through the hotel’s concierge staff for $15 a person.

Ostra will have the full à la carte menu, with plenty of seafood options including oysters on the half shell, from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

During dinner service, beginning at 5:30 pm, outside seating on the patio will be available with a required $100 food and beverage minimum per table.

For reservations, call Ostra at (210) 396-5817.

Ostra’s Margarita Bar will be open from 2 to 11 p.m. Seating for the parade will be available on a first come, first served basis.



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What’s Shakin’ This Fiesta? Some Fun Cocktails

Want to keep that Fiesta spirit going? Try one of these cocktails from several restaurants around town. Two come from Bohanan’s Bar, 219 E. Houston St.; a third comes from Wildfish Seafood Grille, 1834 N. Loop 1604 W.; and the last from Roaring Fork, 1806 N. Loop 1604 W.

Have fun playing around with the ingredients so you get the drink you’d like. That could mean a little more ginger beer in one, a little less Tabasco sauce in another. And enjoy.

Fiesta Medal-icious

Fiesta Medal-icious

½ ounce fresh lime juice
1 ¼ ounces aged rum
Ginger beer
Lime wedge

Pour lime juice and rum in a Collins glass filled with ice.  Fill with ginger beer.  Garnish with lime wedge.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Bohanan’s Bar



7/8 ounce fresh lime juice
¾ ounce sugar
2 ounces gin
Mint leaves

In an ice-filled shaker, add lime juice, sugar and gin. Pour into a chilled glass. Garnish with mint leaves, to taste.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Bohanan’s Bar



Cucumber slices, peeled
Lime juice
Olive juice
Rain Cucumber Vodka
Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix
Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco sauce
Bud Light
Cucumber slices, cocktail onion and blue cheese-stuffed olive for garnish

Take a shaker with a little ice, cucumbers, lime juice and olive juice, and muddle together. Fill shaker with ice, add Rain Cucumber Vodka, Zing Zang, a splash of Worcestershire and Tabasco, to taste. Shake well. Serve in a salted rim martini glass with a Bud Light on the side.

Garnish with cucumber, cocktail onion, and a blue cheese-stuffed olive flag.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Wildfish Seafood Grille

Roaring Fork Sangrita

Roaring Fork Sangrita

10 ounces frozen margarita
Roaring Fork Red Sangria (recipe below)
Lime wedge, orange wedge and cherry for garnish

Red Sangria:
4 ounces red wine
2 ounces raspberry purée
2 ounces huckleberry purée or blueberry purée

Take a glass with 10 ounces of frozen margarita in it. Swirl in red sangria. Garnish with lime, orange and cherry.

To make Red Sangria, mix wine and purées.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Roaring Fork

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