There’s something festive about sangria. Maybe it’s because this plummy punch is often served in pitchers, making it an easily shareable cocktail. Or perhaps it’s because it pairs well with a wide variety of foods, offering the sophistication of a craft cocktail that pleases every palate. Come summer, it’s also a tantalizing thirst-quencher. And thanks to Westchester restaurateurs who’ve gotten creative blending good wines with top-shelf spirits and seasonal fruits, it’s also a new kind of Spanish charmer. Here are some of the area’s more memorable varieties.
Don Coqui (107 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains 914-576-7676; 115 Cedar St, New Rochelle 914-648-4848; www.doncoqui.tv) is practically synonymous with sangria—every table, it seems, has a pitcher strategically placed between heaping platters of food. Here, the fruit-filled classic—in red, white, and green (yes, we said “green”) varieties—exudes a sense of fun with its bracing balance of brandy, Schnapps, wine, soda, and fruit juice ($10/glass; $45/pitcher).
At Café of Love (38 E Main St, Mount Kisco 914-242-1002; www.cafeofloveny.com), a splash of lemon soda (in the red) or ginger ale (in the white) gives each sangria a nice effervescence and sparkle, perfect for a summer day, and if you’re lucky, sidewalk seating. The red, with wine-soaked oranges, apples, and plums, cuts the sweetness down with Rioja wine, apple liqueur, raspberry liqueur, apricot brandy, and cranberry and pomegranate juices, while the white features a light peachy tang thanks to the Verdejo wine, peach liqueur, Cointreau, apricot brandy, orange juice, sliced lemons, limes, peaches, and strawberries ($9/glass).
Watching Wellington De Oliveira, the bartender and creator of the Summer Sangria at 42 The Restaurant (1 Renaissance Sq, White Plains 914-761-4242; www.42therestaurant.com), is like watching a wizard at work. Here, fresh strawberries and peaches mingle with basil and an orange rind amidst a generous splash of infused Pinot Grigio, St-Germain, pisco, and ginger beer for a playful twist on the traditional. It’s both zingy and bright and on par with any stand-alone cocktail. Plus, its golden hue blends perfectly with the gorgeous view ($12/glass).
Authenticity defines the sangria at Gaucho Grill (1 N Broadway, White Plains 914-437-9966; www.gauchogrillnewyork.com), where each glass (no pitchers here!) is made to order. According to General Manager Miguel Sanchez, the recipe was a team effort—a combination of rum, brandy, Triple Sec, orange juice/passionfruit, and Argentinean Malbec or Torrontés created by a staff whose members hail from various regions in South America. All three varieties—red, white, and passionfruit— are meant to taste like “home” (that is, the flavors they grew up with) and fall in the “just right” category—not too tart and not too sweet. Gaucho’s sangria is so delicious, in fact, it was voted Best of Westchester for 2014 ($14/glass).
A colorful collection of mango, pineapple, and grapes mingle with a base of brandy and an infusion of wines (Spanish dry for the red; Sauvignon Blanc for the white) at Lola’s Mexican Kitchen (169 E Post Rd, White Plains 914-358-4939; www.lolaswhiteplains.com) where the flavors stew together in generous jugs by the bar. Come on a Wednesday after 7 pm, when pitchers are $15, or at Happy Hour (Monday to Friday, 4 pm to 7 pm), when drinks at the bar are $4. While both varieties are fairly traditional, the spirited environment will make you feel like you’re at a Latin American house party ($10/glass; $30/pitcher).
Expect a spin on the time-honored sangria at Mambo 64 (64 Main St, Tuckahoe 914-222-9964; www.mambo64.com), which offers two main selections: red wine with pineapple and lemon (plus Burgundy, brandy, and either orange or peach liqueur) and white wine with passionfruit, mango, Granny Smith apples, and oranges (plus Chablis, brandy, and either orange or peach liqueur)—and whatever else Chef/Owner Arlen Gargagliano feels like playing with that day. These slightly unconventional mixtures offer enough punch to keep you coming back for more. Your incentive: Happy Hour (Tuesday to Friday, 5 pm to 7 pm) when glasses are $5 (regularly $9/glass; $30/pitcher).
At MP Taverna (1 Bridge St, Irvington 914-231-7854; www.michaelpsilakis.com), Happy Hour is every day from 3 pm to 6:30 pm and glasses are $6 (pitchers, $24), so there’s no reason not to imbibe, especially when the sangria is so intoxicating. It’s secret (until now) ingredient? Metaxa, a brandy-like Greek spirit infused with rose petals, which gives a distinct flavor to both the red and the white, not to mention a savory edge. The red has a hint of raspberry, thanks to the berry vodka, French brandy, and Pinot Noir it contains, while the white features a lively balance of Chablis, elderflower liqueur, orange vodka, and green apples ($9/glass; $32/ pitcher).
NoMa Social (1 Radisson Plz, New Rochelle 914-576-4141; www.nomasocial.com) is the ultimate after-work gathering place. With its loungey decor and generous sized bar, there’s always plenty of room for colleagues to celebrate/commiserate/gossip/strategize/schmooze or partake in all of the above. Here, the sangria, offered in red and white versions, comes chock-full of oranges and heaping portions of red and green apples. The red is sweet and crisp, while the white has a fruitier, wispier tang. For those fond of deals, try the “five tapas and a pitcher of sangria for $50” and let your after-work stress melt away ($10/glass; $30/pitcher).
You might not expect sangria at 105-Ten Bar & Grill (127 Woodside Ave, Briarcliff Manor 914-236-3651; www.105ten.com), a post-industrial looking tavern with a Brooklyn-meets-Westchester ambience, but there it is, in all its red and white glory. Though mainly a beer and wine kind of place—with excellent prices we might add—this people-pleaser offers a nicely sized thirst-quencher rich with bold, fruity flavors fortified with brandy, wine, Grand Marnier, simple syrup, and a light sprinkling of strawberries and oranges ($9/glass).
It’s hard to pick just one sangria at Palomino (141 Chatsworth Ave, Larchmont 914-630-7871; www.palominolarchmont.com), where tables are adorned with colorful versions of red, mango, blood orange, pomegranate, and cava, all of which are built on a base of orange and peach liqueur; brandy; red, rosé, or white wine. Mango and blood orange are the most original, with a well-defined flavor meant to revive the spirit and awaken the senses. Those who prefer something light will enjoy the cava, which tastes like a Champagne punch. No matter what you choose, the sangria joy is contagious; so much so that it’s best to come with friends—that way you can sample all five ($9/glass; $36/pitcher).