I first learned about sangrita after hearing Phil Hendrie sing its praises. Sangrita (not to be confused with sangria) is a non-alcoholic beverage created to be enjoyed alongside tequila. Unfortunately, no one in the Southeast had any clue of what I was talking about and tried to give me sangria instead. That’s ok, I’ve got the internet! No such luck. The closest I could find was going to charge me $40 dollars just to ship one $7 bottle. Ditching that idea, I even found some recipes online. My results were disastrous – mostly tasting like a badly mixed Bloody Mary. I had all but given up on ever tasting this strange beverage until I was shopping the other day at the Mexican market. Like an unexpected surprise, there it was!
I quickly grabbed the bottle assuming everyone wanted it like I did (they didn’t) snagged a fifth of silver tequila and headed home.
I’m sure drinking methods vary, but the most common way I have heard of is: Take a sip of tequila, follow with sangrita, tequila, sangrita, tequila, sangrita… repeat until vomiting or sleep occurs. The sangrita is supposed to serve as a palate cleanser between sips of tequila, usually a blanco one.
Before cracking the top, I read the ingredients: water, sugar, salt, hot sauce, citric acid, orange emulsion, then a couple of preservatives and dyes. Right away I noticed a difference from my homemade version. Mine had tomato juice – an addition that made the mix taste rather strange. Hopefully this would taste better.
The tequila I chose for the experiment was Cuervo silver. I would have chosen Don Julio, but I can’t afford to roll like that unless it’s a special occasion. I set up our shots and we each took a sip, drinking about half of the 1.5 oz glass. Cuervo is Cuervo so there were no surprises there – not exactly rotgut but not primo agave either. Time to follow with the mysterious sangrita.
The first thing you notice is the citrus taste. The texture was a little thicker than water, but without pulp. It wasn’t like drinking a glass of orange juice, but it definitely tasted of oranges. It also had a nice hot kick of spice as an aftertaste. Not sure of the results, I took another sip of tequila and followed once again with the sangrita. The taste did bring out the fruitiness of the tequila and the heat at the end was a nice complement. I’ve always liked spicy heat paired with tequila and this was definitely tasty.
I’m glad I finally got to taste the beverage that I had tried so hard to locate. I would suggest trying it if you ever happen to see a bottle in the store, if not for the curiousity factor alone. In hindsight, I don’t necessarily think I was missing out on anything groundbreakingly amazing. That being said, I wasn’t really drinking it with a tequila that had any nuanced flavors that needed to be brought out. I’ll definitely hang on to the remainder of the bottle and break it out again if I’m lucky enough for a bottle of Don Julio Blanco to make it into my hands.