Viva La Grita!

SANGRITA

Good tequila deserves more than a twist. It warrants an accompaniment worthy of its earthy heritage. Mexican tradition calls for "La Bandera," a series of three sips that conjure the colors of the Mexican Flag. White, of course, is Tequila. The green is Limón. For the red, there is Sangrita, and this is her story.

MANY SANGRITAS USE A BLEND OF LIMES, CHILI PEPPERS AND TOMATOES.

IN THIS RECIPE, THERE IS INDEED PLENTY OF LIME JUICE, FRESHLY SQUEEZED.

...AND CHILI PEPPERS...

ANCHOS OFFER SWEET & EARTHY NOTES

+PEQUIN+ BRING THE HEAT

But absolutely no tomatoes.

"En la tierra de los ciegos, el tuerto es rey."

In the land of the blind, Cyclops is king.

Don't forget to roast your Ancho chilis in a cast iron pan first to bring out the warmth of their flavor. If you don't have any cast iron, put down your phone and go buy a 10" skillet. Your grandchildren will thank you. After roasting, soak the pieces in boiling water to soften.

PURÉE THE ANCHOS WITH WHITE ONION

+ POMEGRANITEMOLASSES

THIS IS THE SECRET INGREDIENT

That's it. Everything you see here, plus a base of orange juice..

A sip of tequila followed by a sip of Sangrita makes them immutable companions.

Ingredients 64 oz. fresh orange juice 1 cup fresh lime juice 5 ancho chiles 2 cups white onion, chopped 4 Tbs. pomegranate syrup 2+ Tbs. chili piquin powder salt to taste

Directions 1. Tear open dried ancho chiles and remove stem and seeds. Roast chili pieces in cast-iron skillet to release flavor, being careful that the pieces don't burn or char. Admire the sweet aroma and have a sip of some good reposado and turn up the music a little bit. 2. Place roasted chili pieces in a stainless steel bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Weigh down the chili pieces with another bowl on top. Let soak for about 15 minutes. 3. Have another little sip of tequila and call that friend you've been missing. Lie about your weight. As you're catching up on the last 10 years, squeeze your limes with a hand-squeezer. Remember to wash your limes first, and then roll them on the counter with the palms of your hand. This makes juicing them easier. 4. Chop your onion and put it in a blender. Cry, but only for a moment, over all of life's lost opportunities. No, wait, that was just the onions. Take another sip of tequila and throw into the blender a couple hearty pinches of salt and the soft chili pieces. Pour in enough of the rusty-colored soaking liquid to make blending easy. Blend until all is well-pureed. 5. Combine in a large pitcher (1 gallon) the orange juice, lime juice, chili/onion puree and the pomegranate syrup. Add a tablespoon of salt and let sit refrigerated overnight. Have another sip and put on that old DVD of "Night of the Iguana" and look at how cool Puerta Vallarta was in the '60s. Have another sip as you wonder if you were ever as cool as Richard Burton. Have yet another sip with the realization that the answer will always and forever be "no." 6. The next day, fix yourself a cup of strong coffee and taste the sangrita for balance. This is where I add what seems to be too much salt, but it has to compete with the sourness and acidity of the pomegranate and lime. Just add what's needed for the right balance and your personal taste, and then do what I always forget to do -- write down exactly what and how much you added. 7. Finally, adjust for your level of heat. You'll need some tequila for this. I usually start with a teaspoon of the piquin powder, but start slow add a bit at a time, remembering to stir well in between. Stop and marvel, for just a moment, at how improbably blue the sky is. Call your friends or make some new ones. Find some cool small glasses that are bigger than standard shot glasses. Pick out your favorite guayabera and crank up the music.

Salud! or better yet...

Arriba! Abajo! Al Centro! Pa' Dentro!

story | photos | recipe by Jim Myers jim@culinarity.com

#sangrita #tequila #cocktails

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