La Bodega serves its festive beverage all year, but we especially love to sip it during summer. Here’s how to make it.
Story by James Taylor
When it comes to summertime cocktails, sangria is practically perfect: fruity, served chilled over ice, and just a little bit sweet. Spaniards have been enjoying sangria for more than 2,000 years, when Roman conquerors made their way through the Iberian Peninsula (modern-day Spain and Portugal), planting vineyards. It wasn’t until 1998, when the original La Bodega opened on Southwest Boulevard, that Kansas City got its first taste of authentic sangria (with our own top-secret twist, of course).
As history shows, water in Spain during Roman times was considered unsafe for drinking, and most beverages were commonly fortified with alcohol to kill off any bacteria. So the first sangrias were watered down mixes of wine, water, and herbs and spices.
At La Bodega, we have taken the fortified concept to another level, and are definitely not serving your mother’s wine cooler—the sangria of 1974. We prefer the version reminiscent of the days when botellones—parties of young people gathering to imbibe—still legally raged on into the early hours in Spanish city squares. Many innkeepers and tapas bars did not want to waste half opened bottles of wine, so to preserve the wines (and extend their lives) they fortified them with brandy and served them at a discounted price. Botellones looked at sangria as a rather economical way to drink with people before going out to bars, discos or clubs.
A sangria recipe can be as varied as paella—aside from a few staples, everyone has their own approach. Variations come from the addition of brandy, sweeteners like orange liqueurs, the amount and type of fresh fruit added, and fruit juices, in the style of the botellones. At La Bodega, we add oranges and green apples to our popular sangria.
The Official La Bodega Sangria Recipe
Serves 6 – 8
Fill a large pitcher with ice and add:
- 1 bottle of Spanish Tempranillo or a nice California merlot (Note: No need for it to be expensive or high on the Wine Spectator list.)
- 10-12 ounces red grape juice
- 6 ounces Spanish brandy
- 6 ounces triple sec or high quality orange liqueur
Add fresh, cut fruit to your liking (Suggested: orange and lemon slices, grapes or cherries). Note: Luxardo Maraschino Cherries, available at gourmet stores, will add some kick to the sangria.
Fill wine glasses with ice and add soda to top off.
James Taylor’s La Bodega turns up the heat on Spanish small plates engineered for sharing. Both distinctive locations—the boho-influenced Southwest Boulevard room with its hand-painted murals by artist Peregrine Honig and Leawood’s Euro-chic space with one of the best patios around in a vibrant suburban setting—add to La Bodega’s sexy, seductive vibe. Visit labodegakc.com for menus and special event information.