As the weather warms up, sangria season gets into full swing. And that’s a welcome sign for both operators and customers. Although a well-balanced sangria requires a skillful blending of ingredients, the recipe is extremely adaptable. The bar can combine several opened bottles of wine, odds and ends of fruit and leftover ingredients for a cost-effective, refreshing batch drink. That may be the reason almost 5% more operators are offering sangria year over year, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor.
But standard-issue sangria is so last century. Here’s how six operators are signaturizing the drink with unique ingredients and presentations.
The South Africa-based fast casual offers carafes of sangria for $16.95 to cool off the palates of customers who go with the extra-spicy peri-peri sauce on their spatchcock-grilled chicken. Newer on the menu is what Nando’s is calling its twist on sangria—Vinho Spritzers—made with red, white or rose wine from Slovenia and mixed with lemonade and fresh fruit.
The more casual sibling of Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant, expanding multiunit Bartaco (No. 14 on Restaurant Business’ 2016 Future 50 list) focuses on small plates and Latin street food. The concept’s top-selling Sangria Pera ($7.50) is a combination of white wine, elderflower liqueur, pear nectar, lemon juice, sparkling Spanish wine and fresh fruit.
Photo credit: Troy Lilly
This casual-dining chain fancies up a lower-priced merlot with orange juice, pineapple juice, a hint of cherry, a splash of lemon-lime soda and fresh fruit. The bar also offers seasonal sangria variations, including white grape and peach sangria in the summer. Prices average $7 a glass.
5. California Pizza Kitchen
This higher-test version of sangria at CPK adds cognac to the mix of red wine, blackberry syrup, raspberry puree, cranberry juice and lemonade. The result is a rich red libation ($8.99 a glass) that pairs well with CPK’s pizzas and heartier menu items.
6. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant & Market
To upsell bag-in-box sangria, Bubba Gump’s serves it on the rocks with fruit garnishes and markets it as a Sangria Cocktail under the Specialty Selections section of the drink menu. It goes for $6 a glass during happy hour.