Sunday, January 9, 2011


I've mentioned the annual summer beach trip I take with my girlfriends before, in my Cream of Mushroom Soup post, and here's another recipe inspired by that vacation. Before we started renting a house that was too far down the beach for it to be practical, every year we used to set aside one evening and drive almost an hour to a little Cuban restaurant in Cocoa Beach for some ropa vieja, Cuban sandwiches, and a pitcher of sangria. Last year, since we didn't go to dinner there, I found a recipe so that we could make our own batch of that potent, festive libation. While we sipped our way through an experimental pitcher, we started playing the celebrity name game, which is hilarious if you're tipsy. (I'm told it was Casie who declared at one point, "I just can't stop thinking about Reba McEntire!" and the rest of us burst into hysterical laughter.) The next day, we all agreed: that stuff was strong.

I mean, you have to love a beach 
house that stocks bubbles.
  This year, I brought the
  recipe with me, but because I 
  forgot to get several of the 
  key ingredients when we made 
  our grocery run, we had to 
  improvise. One morning, while 
  the other ladies adjourned to
  the beach to soak up some
  sunshine, Valerie and I 
  stayed in the kitchen, 
  doctoring a pitcher full of 
  wine, fruit, and liquor, 
  sampling it with a big spoon 
  anytime we added something to
  it, until it tasted good.
  Yes, it was ten o'clock in 
  the morning, but to be fair,
  you kind of have to do this 
  early in the day so that the
  fruit has a chance to sit for 
  a while and get all wine-y 
 (and the wine can get fruity).

We started out with a concoction that, when we tasted it, caused us to make sour lemon faces and then shudder a little bit. Potent stuff. So from there, the objective was to keep it dangerous but also make it delicious. (I should add that our plans for the evening only included coming back after dinner, putting on our pajamas, and drinking sangria while sitting around the dining room table playing the Harry Potter board game. There was to be no more driving that night.) In the cupboard we found a box full of sugar packets that the previous renters had left behind, so we kept adding them to the pitcher in threes and sixes until we each drank a spoonful, our eyes got big, and both of us said, "Oooooh." Then we left it in the fridge all day. When we broke it out that night, we made sure to caution everyone that our sangria was a beautiful woman who would probably do you wrong. I should confess that later in the evening, after imbibing some of it, I ended up whacking my head hard on the towel rack in the bathroom and also falling partway down the stairs (not that I'm ever particularly graceful, honestly, even stone cold sober). Again, we only made the one pitcher, and it was shared among five of us. You've been warned. There's a reason why I put an exclamation point after the title in this post... 

our glorious, deserted beach
 1 1.5-L bottle dry red wine 
 2 airplane bottles Bacardi   
    Limon rum 
 2 airplane bottles brandy
 2 apples, cut up
 1 orange, cut up
 1 lemon, cut up
 1 lime, cut up
 1 lime, juiced
 1 lemon, juiced
 1 to 2 oranges, juiced
 3/4 cup sugar (or to taste) 

 1 L raspberry seltzer water

Stir all ingredients 
together in a pitcher 
until fully dissolved, 
and then let it sit in 
the refrigerator for 
at least a few hours so 
that everything infuses everything else. Keep in
mind two things. One, this is sangria, so it is perfectly acceptable, and even advisable, to use cheap red wine. Two, another warning: of all the fruit, the apple pieces in particular seem to really soak up a disproportionate amount of liquor flavor, so when you bite into one, it's probably gonna bust you in the chops. You might use that information to decide whether you want to dip yourself out a few extra apple chunks or, alternatively, leave them alone. :)

Cheers for real,