Spicy, zesty, and addictively tangy and salty, Sangrita makes the perfect sipping partner for tequila. I recently tried a version I'm over the moon for, and am excited to share the recipe with you today.
What Is Sangrita?
But first a little background.
Sangrita is a non-alcoholic beverage traditionally served in a small glass alongside a shot of tequila or mezcal. A small sip is taken of one, and then the other, the Sangrita's spicy, tangy flavors complementing the tequila's peppery, boozy heat.
Recipes for this classic Mexican sipper vary widely. Older, more traditional ones tend to combine fresh pomegranate juice, sour orange juice, and hot chiles. Newer ones, on the other hand, usually feature tomato juice, lime juice and sweet orange juice - plus a healthy dose of spice.
But whether they fall on the tartly sweet pomegranate side, or the more savory tomato one, most versions are red. This is for good reason: in Spanish Sangrita means "little blood."
A Tasty Version at Mayhuel
I recently tried a truly delicious (and fiendishly addictive) version made with tomato juice. I was visiting Mayahuel, a tiny jewel of a place in NYC's East Village that specializes in tequila and mezcal. And although I was enjoying tasting through my flight of mezcals, the Sangrita really grabbed me. I kept coming back for more. It was super-savory and super-tasty. The secret ingredient? Instead of orange, it was made with fresh celery juice.
The restaurant generously shared the recipe. I couldn't wait to make it at home. But the problem was, I didn't have a juicer. I wondered if I could improvise with a blender instead.
I tried adding a bit of water to the celery to get the blades going and it seemed to do the trick. After repeated pulsing, stopping, and stirring, the diced pieces were reduced to a smooth puree. I strained the pulp out and was ready to go.
The DIY Verdict?
The celery flavor wasn't quite as pronounced in my at-home, blenderized version, but it was still delicious. A definite keeper around here.
4 ounces tomato juice
1 ounce celery juice (if, like me, you don't have a juicer at home, try the blender method below)*
3/4 ounce lime juice (save one of the squeezed-out lime halves)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
a little more than 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
a little less than 1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp spicy rimming mix**
pinch of cayenne
Combine all ingredients and stir well. Moisten the rim of a shot glass by running the squeezed-out lime half along its edge. Roll the moistened rim in the Spicy Rimming Mix** and then pour in the sangrita. Serve as an accompaniment to a shot of your favorite blanco (a.k.a silver or plata) or reposado tequila - or mezcal.
*Celery Juice (Blender Method)
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 Tbs water
Whir the celery and the water together in a blender, stopping to stir the mixture occasionally, until it is thoroughly pureed. Strain the juice through a fine-mesh strainer and discard pulp.
**Mayahuel's Spicy Rimming Mix
1 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Stir ingredients well and store in a tightly sealed container.
Have you tried Sangrita?
• Read more: Mayahuel Mexican Restaurant
Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC's Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry.
Related: Escape to Mexico with Tequila
(Images: Nora Maynard)