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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Essential: Sangrita, Tequila's Hot-Blooded Companion

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2011 at 5:28 PM

Magalie L'Abbé
​Despite the high quality of 100 percent blue agave tequila at its most refined, the idea of sitting down and sipping a room temperature shot will most likely provoke shudders and a cold sweat of memories. Your feelings would produce little sympathy from the Tapatios, inhabitants of the Mexican state of Jalisco where most tequila is produced; they would just think you're a little odd for drinking it alone. In Mexico, sipping a shot of quality tequila is usually accompanied by sangrita ("little blood" in Spanish), a tangy blend of citrus, pomegranate, spice, and often tomato ― it's a perfect foil to the spirit. 

Very few people have given the pairing much attention, with the exception of Nopa and Nopalito bar manager Neyah White. His sangrita recipe is served at Nopalito, and at one point, he was pairing three distinct sangritas to best compliment specific tequilas at Nopa. Taking alternating sips of sangrita refreshes your palate and enhances the spirit ― much like pickled ginger in between sushi prepares your tongue for the subtle range of flavors. As the philosopher/poet Rob Base said, "It takes two to make a thing go right, it takes two to make it outta sight."

The Bon VivantsJosh Harris and Scott Baird of the upcoming Trick Dog ― are looking to add fuel to the fire with a ¡Viva Sangrita! national recipe competition. The contest challenges bartenders to pair high-end Tequila Ocho with a custom sangrita recipe. Harris describes Tequila Ocho as having the potential for "creating a transcendental tequila drinking experience with ummaminess and integrated flavors." Harris believes the pairing is optimal for higher end tequilas that work best when enjoyed neat, yet still allow room for bartender creativity to turn it into "something interesting and unique." At a recent event in Los Angeles, Harris and Baird created a mango- and pineapple-based sangrita that contained habañero, roasted cocoa, and cinnamon to complement a lightly oaked, grassy highland San Augustin añejo tequila.

A great standard and easy recipe can be found here.

Lou Bustamante tweets at @thevillagedrunk. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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