Cocktail Friday: A sangria for cold winter nights

Let’s face it: if you’re reading this, chances are you’re not sipping a glass of sweet, fruit-infused sangria while vacation in warm southern Spain or sunny Mexico. The wine punch – a blend of chopped fruits, honey, sugar or simple syrup with a base of red or white wine – is a classic cocktail with countless variations served up during the summer months throughout Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean. However, it’s been a long winter and with summer just a distant memory, we went in search of a winterized version of sangria to bring some sunshine during the dreary days ahead.

There may quite possibly be no place colder or wintery than Minnesota with its Canadian border and tendency for record snow fall and below-zero temperatures. Even so, its capital city, Minneapolis, has become a central hub for Latinos. That being the case, it seemed appropriate that Café Ena, a tiny, cozy spot on the city’s famous Grand Avenue South serves up a warming version of sangria that’s perfect for beating the frigid temperatures.

Café Ena, named after Mexican-American owner Hector Ruiz’s daughter, is known as a destination among born and bred Minnesotans and transplants alike who want to escape the cold with colorful Latin fusion offerings like arepas with chiles con crema, pico de gallo ahi tuna tartare and pan-seared salmon served up with yucca mofongo. The restaurant boasts impressive wine lists of red and white varietals but only offers one cocktail: sangria.

“We have a summer version and a winter version,” says server James Benda, “and two out three parties will opt for the sangria!” Their version that’s been perfected over the last five years features clementine oranges, honey crisp or green apples and a secret ingredient – soul-warming port wine – that adds body and depth to this house recipe.

We’re offering up Café Ena’s fabulous recipe here, but we’re also fans of the white wine sangria with spiced anise, hibiscus and pear version featured by the ladies of the Muy Bueno Cookbook. We also love making any night a party with this fun recipe using sparkling cava by Daisy Martinez. Whichever you try, buen provecho!

Café Ena’s Winter Sangria

Two honey crisp or granny smith apples, cored and chopped

Four clementine oranges, peeled and sliced

1 bottle dry white wine, like pinot

1 bottle Spanish red wine, like tempranillo

1/4  cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 orange juice

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1/4 cup Spanish port wine

1 cup filtered water

1. Add orange slices, apples and sugar to the bottom of a large pitcher. Pour wines, juices and water over the mixture, mixing with a spoon to combine.

2. Place pitcher in fridge for at least one hour, testing for sugar before serving. Serve over ice if desired.

Makes one large pitcher of sangria.

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