Dating back to the late 1700s, this single-serving punch is the perfect open-ended drink. At its simplest, the Sangaree—a combination of fortified wine, sugar, water and grated nutmeg—is sweet, spice-forward and low in alcohol, but add a shot of your favorite brandy, and things get even more interesting. “This is such a fun and often-forgotten cocktail—[it’s] literally one of the earliest cocktails we have, dating back to 1774,” says Jason Sorbet, beverage director of The Chloe in New Orleans. According to Sorbet, Jerry Thomas’ 1862 “Bartenders Guide” dedicated an entire section to the Sangaree, but after Prohibition, the category fell out of fashion and never quite recovered. “Despite its recondite origins, I think the drink has remained in the back of our minds because of its simplicity,” he adds.
When it comes to choosing the right brandy for your perfect Sangaree, there are countless options available, says Sorbet. “This cocktail is really a blank canvas—it can feature a Brandy de Jerez, an Armagnac, a Moscatel Pisco, or something clean and eau-du-vie-like, such as a pear brandy or kirschwasser. These all work well in cocktails because they each have a clear essence of the fruits they are coming from, are typically on the more dry side and are usually high enough [in alcohol] to be treated the same way you would treat any other base spirit.” Here’s how to make the classic Brandy Sangaree at home.
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon water
- 2 ounces brandy
- 1 ounce port wine
- Garnish: grated nutmeg
Add the sugar and water into a mixing glass and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the brandy and port wine, then add ice and stir.
Strain into a chilled Nick and Nora glass.
Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.