Photo: LeNell Smothers
Commemorate the grand victory of Mexican forces over French occupation by raising a glass of not only tequila for Cinco de Mayo, but also a copita of sangrita.
About 90 years ago a Señor Sanchez and his wife had a little joint in the town of Tequila in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Their special guests were treated to his homemade tequila and her snacks made of pieces of orange topped with salt and chili powder. Eventually the snack evolved into fresh orange juice with salt and chili served as an accompaniment to the tequila. Later tomato juice was added to this and became known as sangrita, Spanish for "little blood."
No matter the true origin, sangrita makes a perfect pair with tequila. In Mexico, you might even hear a customer order a Banderita, meaning "little flag," consisting of shots of lime juice, tequila and sangrita lined up next to each other to resemble the colors of the Mexican flag. Many say the sangrita chaser is a great way to stave off a hangover.
Read on about sangrita and find LeNell's recipe, after the jump...
It's not difficult to make, but for convenience sake, you might try a commercially bottled version. Two of the more popular sangrita premixes are Viuda de Sanchez (Sanchez's widow) and Jimador. The brand Don Pepe claims origins back to the original Sanchez family.
Like the history of many drinks, sangrita has various legends. There's no one way to make sangrita. Many recipes exist. Some contain no chili; some no tomato juice.
We don't even have a "house recipe" here at Casa Cóctel, preferring to make it based on what we have on hand that inspires us. Sometimes fresh, sweet oranges may play a larger role. Sometimes it might be beautiful grapefruit from a neighbor's yard.
It's cheap and easy to make when you are in a rush. With more time and patience, you can go gourmet and make your own fresh tomato juice.
You can use this recipe as a base. We believe sangrita usually tastes even better when it's allowed to sit for a few hours so the flavors meld together. Don't hesitate to add flavors like Worcestershire or Mexican Maggi sauce, soy sauce, or even celery salt. If you can handle the heat, cut a jalapeno pepper lengthwise and leave in for 15-30 minutes, then remove.
Makes 1 liter
16 oz. tomato juice
10 oz. orange juice
4 oz. grapefruit juice
2 oz. lime juice
2 oz. hot sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1.5 teaspoons chili powder
Alabama-born LeNell Smothers defines herself first and foremost as a bartender, but she's been called many things -- most recently, the proprietress of Casa Cóctel with partner Demián Camacho Santa Ana. She's owned her own whiskey label, called Red Hook Rye, and has been recognized by her home state as an honorary Colonel. Other interests include gin, sin and men.