Celebrate: Sangrita

This weeks post comes from my partner in crime and troubadour Josh del Rio. Josh came to me with this delicious duo to ring in the new year. Skeptical we knocked back my favorite tequila and chased it with this surprising concoction, Sangrita. The tangy and sweet chaser completely neutralizes the harsh alcohol on your palette creating and ultimately lethal but delicious combination. We recommend this recipe for your next celebration! Cheers!!!

BY JOSH DEL RIO In my experiences as a casual, at times hardcore drinker, I’ve never called myself a true tequila fan. Sure, I’ve had the occasional $10 Margarita pitcher, I’ve taken the salt/tequila/llime shot more times than I’d like to admit, and I’ve even enjoyed the acclaimed Patron Anejo on the rocks, although it did take a quite the bite out of my wallet. Despite trying all these fancy faces of tequila, I’ve always found myself going back to the comforts of rum, gin, and especially my beloved bourbon. 

That is until I found the perfect complement to tequila’s unique taste: sangrita. Sangrita is the traditional partner to a shot of straight tequila. Its origins take root in the southwestern Mexican state of Jalisco, home of mariachi and tequila. Introduced in the 1920’s, sangrita, meaning “little blood”, was made from the remnant juices of pico de gallo.

Now I came by sangrita in the heart of Fishtown, sitting on a bar stool in Loco Pez. A friend and I were just finished stuffing our faces on a la carte tacos when he asks me to take a shot of tequila with him. I was hesitant, and perhaps it showed for the bartender poured the liquor, but also poured this red liquid in accompanying pony shots. The barkeep explained what it was, sangrita, the customary accompaniment to straight tequila. Said that it was tomato based, infused with pomegranate juice, lime and hot sauce. 

Sounds interesting. I’m not one to knock anything before I try it, so the glasses went up, clinked together, and found themselves emptied of their spicy, citrusy contents. I remember waiting for my whiskey face to distort my facial features, but it didn’t happen. Instead a grinch-sized smile stretched across my face. The experience was smooth and savory, and it left me warm with the residual heat of both liquor and hot sauce. I was amazed! Finally, something that can let me appreciate the subtle complexity of tequila. I was sold. And I had an idea.

With the holiday coming up soon, I had to start racking my brain for gift ideas. I don’t know if it’s just me, but finding something for dad has always been easy: get him drunk. Strangely enough, my father is a big fan of tequila. So boom! One bottle of Espolon Reposado please! And hey, why not make him some sangrita too! 

There are quite a few recepies out there, most of which have a tomato juice base. However, sangrita purists say there is no trace of tomato in traditional recepies. According to them, the juices of the fruit salad pico de gallo, as well as fine chili powder are all thats used. Well, here in America, pico de gallo is made with tomatoes, and its damn good.

The recipie I followed goes as such:


5 ½ oz. tomato juice

5 oz orange juice

1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice

1 oz. pomegranate juice

pinch of salt

hot sauce to taste (I use a couple squirts of sriachi)

Mix it all together and whala, you got yourself six servings of sangrita especial! Now you’re probably going to want to try it, just to see how it tastes. By itself sangrita isn’t the most tasty liquid, but trust me, when it follows distilled blue agave, you’re going to wonder why this little diddy isn’t more well known here in the states, or rest of the world. 

So i made enough of this sauce to accompany a whole bottle of tequila (multiply everything by four, save maybe the sriachi). Soon as my pops walked in the door on Christmas Eve, he had two shot glasses waiting for him: one tequila, one sangrita. Tradition says that sangrita is to be enjoyed by sipping the tequila, and then sipping the sangrita. My tradition says to knock it back and fill it back up again. Needless to say, the next morning there was hardly anything left in that tequila bottle. “Little blood” had me saying “a little more” that night.

Next on my tequila-to-do list: “The Mexican Flag”. Three separate double shot glasses, each individually filled with lime juice, tequila, and sangrita... 



Photos by Ellie Tremble