It seems nearly impossible to improve on the classic recipe for red sangria, but mixologist Jose Torrella does exactly that with his playful spin on the time-honored wine punch.
Torrella, a native of Valencia Spain – and the head mixologist at The Barclay Bar at the InterContinental New York Barclay hotel – has whipped up a modern take on white wine sangria, which is delightfully full-bodied and vibrant with the addition of ripe watermelon puree, chunks of red apple, oranges and plump grapes. And don’t dare think of white sangria as a cloyingly sweet, insipid version of its ruby red sibling. Instead, Torella’s version is perfectly balanced, thanks to the innovative addition of orange-infused Cointreau and dry gin.
“It’s important to keep the integrity of a punch as popular as sangria, but at the same time there’s so much room to have fun with it,” says Torrella, who suggests that cocktail lovers use his recipe as a base to experiment with the addition of different summer-fresh flavors like honey-sweet nectarines or fragrant rosemary.
Sangria – Spanish for blood and a nod to the drink’s tradition as a popular post-bullfight aperitif – is a drink meant to be enjoyed with friends and family; served icy-cold with a meal or tapas. And don’t forget, says Torrella, to use a dry wine such as a white rioja or albariño, made from the thick-skinned grape grown primarily in the Rias Biaxas region of northern Spain. Pinot grigio or a dry riesling can also be used, but stay away from oak barrel aged wines, whose oak flavor can detract from the summer fresh flavors of the perfect white wine sangria.
Sangria Playera (White wine sangria)
1 Red Apple, cored and cut into chunks
1 Orange, cut into small pieces with peel
10 Green Grapes
1/2 seedless watermelon – pureed
6 Tbsp white sugar
1 bottle Pinot Grigio
Gently muddle chunked apple, orange, and whole grapes in punch bowl or pitcher. Add sugar, Cointreau, gin and wine. Pour into goblet. Top with ¼ oz watermelon puree and garnish with an orange slice and 3 grapes.