The month of May is almost over, and you all know what that means: The insane supercomputer that controls Chicago’s weather (Code Name: Big Windy) has finally gone into hibernation. This leads to pleasant, consistent weather for up to four days at a time! When I think of hot weather, I think of porchin’ and grillin.’ I also think of summery drinks. While, normally, I am a wine guy through and through, a bit of Sangria or a Mojito can work wonders.
Sangria is really not a super difficult thing to accomplish, though you would never guess that by their exorbitant prices at a lot of restaurants around the city. If I wanted to pay $30 for what is essentially a bottle of cheap alcohol, I’d go to Rush Street and order bottle service. Better to do it yourself, saving money and drinking in the privacy of your own home. The wine you use doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, the Sangria you’re making doesn’t care what kind of wine you’re using. Since I’m pretty sure the instructions on a bottle of Bordeaux are not “mix with soda and juice,” why not save your expensive bottle for other projects?
Sangria works with either red or white wine. Either way, I would recommend something dry. My girlfriend, Kaytee, loves Riesling, so I thought it would be nice to make her some Riesling-based Sangria. The acid of the citrus wasn’t enough to offset the sweetness of the wine (kind of my main complaint about Riesling, actually), and I spent the whole evening incredibly self-conscious about how sweet my wine was. Plus, it gave everybody headaches.
Here is my basic Sangria recipe:
2 or 3 lemons, sliced into wedges
2 or 3 limes, sliced into wedges
1 orange, sliced into wedges
1 bottle dry wine, red or white (Red: Cabernet, Shiraz, Zinfandel; White: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay)
2/3 cup sugar
As much brandy as you see fit
1 liter soda water, lemon lime soda or ginger ale
Squeeze juice of citrus fruits into pitcher, add other ingredients, stir. Chill for as long as you can possibly stand it.
Serves 4-6 or one depressing person.
Briefly, let’s talk Mojitos. Now, most everyone knows that a Mojito is composed of mint, lime juice and light rum. You can jazz it up with sugar or soda water if you like, but the main problem with Mojitos and me (aside from my personality when I’ve had a few of them) is the pieces of mint getting in everything. Fresh mint is essential for this drink, but once you crush it and release its delicious oils, it becomes wet and has a way of getting stuck in your teeth. I have had to excuse myself from more than one dinner party because I got a small leaf caught in my throat. It’s not somewhere you want to be, trust me. So why not mix everything together, let it sit for a while (preferably overnight), and strain it? This may be heresy in the field of Mojito-making, but if enjoying a smooth drink is a crime, then lock me up! Please don’t lock me up.
What are some summer drinks that you enjoy? Share them in the comments!
And for more on the supercomputer known as Big Windy, stay tuned for my next blog: Circus Accidents in the Finger Lakes Area