Sangrita for Mexican Independence Day

photo by Daniel Dionne
photo by Daniel Dionne

Lately I have seen the phrase "cultural appropriation" pop up in my social media feeds quite a bit. Each attempt to explain it to me brings to mind crowds of rowdy Americans drinking margaritas and Mexican beer for Cinco de Mayo, erroneously celebrating what they think is Mexican Independence Day.

Today actually marks the 205th anniversary of Mexican revolutionaries giving out their cry for independence in what is now celebrated as "El Grito de Dolores" near Guanajuato in a little town named Dolores. One of the highlights of my time living in Mexico includes hearing political leadership perched from a balcony around 11:00pm call out the revolutionaries' names to exclamations from the crowd, "¡Viva México!" "El Grito" marked the beginning of the war for independence; however, Mexico was not officially declared free from Spain until September 28, 1821.

In Mexico, you might hear a customer order a Banderita, meaning “little flag,” consisting of shots of lime juice, tequila, and sangrita lined up next to each other to resemble the colors of the Mexican flag. Sangrita makes a perfect pair with tequila like El Tesoro Platinum (silver medal winner in the 2014 NY International Spirits Competition) or splurge for aged 2014 NYISC bronze winners Sauza Hornitos Black Barrel or Dulce Vida Añejo, 2014 NYISC Organic Tequila Producer of the Year. Many say the sangrita chaser is a great way to stave off a hangover.

If you are unfamiliar with sangrita, here's a little background. Ninety years ago, a man known as Señor Sanchez and his wife had a little joint in the town of Tequila in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Their special guests were treated to his homemade tequila and her snacks made of pieces of orange topped with salt and chili powder. Eventually the snack evolved into fresh orange juice with salt and chili served as an accompaniment to the tequila. Later tomato juice was added to this and became known as "sangrita," Spanish for “little blood.” Something called "little blood" seems perfect to celebrate a revolutionary war.

Like the history of many drinks, sangrita has various legends. There’s no one way to make sangrita. Many recipes exist. Some contain no chili; some no tomato juice.

It’s cheap and easy to make when you are in a rush. With more time and patience, you can maybe go all gourmet and make your own fresh tomato juice.

photo by Cristiano Oliveira
photo by Cristiano Oliveira

You can use this recipe as a base. We believe sangrita usually tastes even better when it’s allowed to sit for a few hours so the flavors meld together. Don’t hesitate to add flavors like Worcestershire or Mexican Maggi sauce, soy sauce, or even celery salt. Add all ingredients to a pitcher and stir until salt is dissolved.If you can handle the heat, cut a jalapeño pepper lengthwise and leave in for 15-30 minutes, then remove.

Makes 1 Liter

  • 16 ounces/473 ml Tomato juice
  • 10 ounces (about 370 ml) Fresh orange juice
  • 4 ounces/118 ml Fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 ounces/ fresh Lime juice
  • 2 ounces/60 Hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper
  • 1.5 teaspoons Chili powder

¡Viva Mexico!