Although it’s often associated with tapas restaurants and sunny brunches, Sangria is an old-world drink dating back to at least the Middle Ages. It combines wine with fruit, sugar and sometimes liquor, giving the maker nearly unlimited permutations at their disposal. Red wine, brandy and berries will produce a far different Sangria than one made with white wine, vodka and grapes. Therein lies the fun.
The Front Porch Swing was created by bartending vet H. Joseph Ehrmann, the proprietor of Elixir in San Francisco, which he opened in 2003. His take on Sangria features your choice of Square One cucumber vodka or Square One botanical spirit. The former combines rye vodka with the essence of fresh cucumbers, while the latter also begins with rye spirit, but then gets infused with eight botanicals: pear, rose, chamomile, lemon verbena, lavender, rosemary, coriander and citrus peel. It’s floral, fruity and herbal, walking the line between vodka and gin to lend complexity to cocktails.
Ehrmann also enlists white wine (he suggests sauvignon blanc, Sancerre, albariño or verdejo), plus St-Germain elderflower liqueur, a handful of fruit and either mint or tarragon—dealer’s choice. Shake all your ingredients together and pour the contents unstrained into a wine glass. Doing so leaves you with a cornucopia of fragrant snacks swimming in your drink.
The spirit and elderflower liqueur deftly complement the bright flavors of the fruit and white wine, yielding a cocktail that is light, refreshing, and exactly what you want to sip during summer.
- 3 ounces white wine
- 1 1/2 ounces Square One cucumber vodka or Square One botanical spirit
- 1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
- 5 white or green grapes, halved
- 5 red grapes, halved
- 1 sprig mint or tarragon
- 1 orange wheel
- 1 strawberry, halved
- Garnish: mint or tarragon sprig (use same herb as used in the drink)
Add the white wine, vodka or botanical spirit, St-Germain, grapes, mint or tarragon, orange wheel and strawberry into a shaker and fill three-quarters of the way with ice.
Shake for 10 seconds until well-chilled, and pour unstrained into a large wine glass.
Garnish with a mint or tarragon sprig.