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What is Sangrita? The Best Chaser for Tequila

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This spicy and citrusy chaser, sangrita (the diminutive Spanish word for blood), is and has been since the 1920s a partner, compadre, and inseparable friend of tequila.

That red-colored preparation that usually accompanies a tequila shot highlights its acidity, cleanses the palate, and soothes the burning in the mouth produced by this distillate.

It is always served in a separate, chilled “caballito” (the classic tequila shot glass), and it is said that initially, it was a fruit drink that today has become a tomato-based aperitif.

Where does sangrita come from?

This delicious and popular tequila chaser originated in Lake Chapala about 65 years ago.

According to legend, a guy named Edmundo Sanchez owned a restaurant in the tourist area of Chapala.

Mr. Sanchez and his wife not only became known for serving delicious snacks but also for serving homemade tequila processed in rustic stone ovens.

The result was a strong and smelly tequila with higher alcohol content.

For this reason, Mrs. Sanchez began to serve slices of fresh oranges, salt, and red chili powder on the table.

The purpose of this was to smoothen the strong taste of the tequila, which was sometimes too harsh for their guests.

You may want to read: Tequila vs Mezcal: A Complete Guide to Agave Spirits

Because of the success and acceptance of this idea, Mr. Sanchez later asked his wife to squeeze the juice into a pitcher instead, adding the salt and chili powder into the mix.

This gave the drink an appetizing reddish color, which later earned it the title of Sangrita.

What does it taste like?

sangrita
Sangrita and tequila – Source: Kara van Malssen / flickr.com

As you will see below in the recipe, the leading ingredients are fresh orange juice, tomatoes, and chili powder.

Therefore, the flavor of sangrita is like a spicy tomato gazpacho with citrusy notes.

Nowadays, the sangrita served in most restaurants is far from being the original one.

This “modern” sangrita is elaborated with the creativity of each bartender with a base of tomato, other spices, and lemon.

You may want to read: How do Mexicans Drink Tequila? The Ultimate Tequila Drinking Guide

Nevertheless, sangrita is still the best tequila chaser, and you can taste those with a good balance of ingredients, making them flavorful and enjoyable.

Is sangrita the same as sangria?

Often, those new to this drink confuse it with Spanish sangria. Although the names are almost identical, they’re entirely different.

As I mentioned, sangrita has a spicy and citrusy taste, while sangria is a mixture of fruit and wine.

Sangrita recipe

Here is a recipe for how sangrita is served today. It is my favorite version. I hope you like it.

** You can play around with other ingredients like cucumber and chives, or rim the glass with a bit of chile piquín, as long as it pairs well with your favorite tequila.

Ingredients (approx 1 liter):

  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1 cup of tomato juice
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  • Squeeze the lemons and macerate the chopped onion for 15 minutes
  • Mix all the other ingredients until the taste is to your liking
  • Stir well
  • Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate to serve chilled
  • If you want your sangrita to have a more intense red color (and make it a bit sweeter), you can add a little grenadine

Make a “Vampiro” cocktail

what is sangrita
A refreshing Vampiro cocktail

Say hello to this delicious sangrita-based cocktail, Vampiro.

The best thing about this recipe is that it is easy and quick to prepare.

Ingredients:

  • 1 shot of tequila blanco
  • 2 shots of sangrita
  • 1/2 cup of grapefruit soda
  • 1/2 seedless lime
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Lemon slices for serving

Instructions:

  • Mix everything in a tall glass
  • Serve and garnish with a slice of lemon. You can also rim the glass with salt

There you have it, friends. Now you know all about sangrita and how to drink tequila like a pro.

See you next time. Vamonos!

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