Sunday, May 15, 2011
Cocktail of the Month: Seasoned Strawberry Sangria
In a Shot: Strawberries are back in season and with the weather turning so beautiful so quickly, the patio had to come backed by an outside favorite, the Sangria with a Johnny C. twist!
Is it just me or is this year cruising at abnormally high speeds? I feel like I just cleaned out my fireplace the other day and already I'm out planting seeds in the garden with my wife and trying to figure out where to go for our next summer vacation. The almost forever looming cold weather hovered over our heads for such a period, that when things took so long to come into season, it was almost a shock to see anything come to the table. With a snap of a finger, strawberries started flooding the Northern Virginia area and some of the earliest, reddest and most sweet berries have been harvested!
I've tried to avoid straight forward Strawberry cocktails for a time now because I've beaten it over the head senseless over the years. The strawberry daiquiri's, margarita's and gimlets have come and gone in my time. I went the culinary route for the products in recent years. Last year's Strawberry Smash was incredibly well received twisting tequila with balsamic vinegar in last year's mix up. The first savory experiment was for a private dinner event held in Food Matters where I infused Stolichnaya vodka (chosen for it's citrus, peppery and herbaceous subtleties over other vodkas) with fresh basil and blended it with a house made strawberry juice.
This year, in an ode to that original Stoli inspired cocktail, I went with a Sangria. Originating in Spain and Portugal, Sangria is a wine based elixir (traditionally un-oaked Spanish red wine), sweetener, fresh fruits (lemons, oranges, apples or seasonal berries and occasional tropical fruits). This mix is traditionally combined with a little brandy, cordial and spice and served with or without ice, and an optional soda topping (traditionally club soda or lemon-lime soda). Because I chose to use a white wine, the drink becomes a Sangria Blanca. Strawberries and black pepper have been a favorite combination of mine for some time so I start by pureeing strawberries with a black pepper corn simple syrup and fresh cracked pepper. With fresh lemon juice I take the mix and blend it together with Stolichnaya Vanil, (Vanilla vodka that isn't as sweet as others on the market and far creamier) and Cointreau orange liqueur. To complete the Sangria, I allow it 24 hours soaking with sweetened black pepper corns, lemons, oranges and lots of strawberries. Take a little bit of this nectar and it's macerated fruits, serve it over ice with a splash of lemon-lime soda and you end up with a well layered Sangria that drinks like a punch.
Without saying, this drink, of course, is hard to keep up with because people down Sangria in this part of town like ice tea or coffee. I've seen two batches go out in a day's time, I'm prepping new batches almost everyday now and I am not seeing signs of stopping! If you have any questions about this cocktail or any other Johnny Cocktails, please drop a line, I'm always shaking things up! See you lounging on the piazza!