Sweet Sangria

Spain’s iconic cocktail is a staple at Bodega On Main

Jennifer Gauthier photo

Sangria has been around for quite a while — a couple of thousand years, in fact. “Most people don’t realize that it’s been around that long,” laughs Paul Rivas, who, along with his sister Natalie, owns Vancouver’s Bodega on Main — the reincarnation of the much-loved former downtown tapas bar, La Bodega.

The story of sangria goes that when the Romans conquered the Iberian Peninsula, they found the water unpalatable. Vineyards were in abundant supply, so they added wine to the water to make it drinkable — and kill off any bacteria. The word “sangria” comes from the Latin word for “blood,” referring to the reddish wine colour of the beverage. These days, there are many varieties of the original, especially in the south of Spain.

“It’s a real thirst-quencher,” explains Rivas, noting that the addition of citrus fruit was a no-brainer in a country where it grows in profusion. “We make our sangria the day before we serve it,” he adds. “That way the fruit has a chance to meld nicely with the wine.

“We use a very traditional, standard recipe, the purest version,” he says. “Red wine, brandy, apples, oranges, lemon, and Triple Sec instead of honey or sugar to add sweetness. We also do white and rosé versions, but the red is by far the most popular.”

Jennifer Gauthier photo

But sangria isn’t the only mixed drink on the menu. “Our cocktail menu rotates every season, and we have a traditional cocktail competition between our staff,” says Natalie. “All of our cocktails have at least one ingredient of Spanish origin, it encourages our staff to research what’s traditional and authentic, as well as look at the latest trends. It’s a great way to both team-build and come up with some amazing drinks.” One recent example is the Bonita 43, which combines Licor 43, a popular Spanish citrus and vanilla-based liqueur, along with herbal yellow chartreuse, vodka, lemon juice, pineapple syrup, chocolate bitters, and a splash of elderflower liqueur.

Whether sweetened with sherry or brightened with cava (as in the Cava Negroni), the one constant is the food-friendly nature of the cocktail and sangria list at Bodega, perfect for sharing and supping with friends.

Bodega on Main
1014 Main St., Vancouver • 604-565-8815

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