Today was cold and wet. I’m impatiently awaiting the sunny days of spring. I remember last spring when the weather was like this my old roommate Jesse and I went to Habana Outpost in Fort Greene to sip sangria huddled in our sweatshirts hoping that there’d be a break in the clouds. I think we somehow thought that if we acted like it was spring that act might hasten its arrival. We were there to plan our vegetable garden.
Jesse and I used to share a duplex with a garden in Prospect Heights. In NYC any private outdoor space is highly coveted and we loved our backyard. We’d sit out there and smugly discuss just how great our backyard was. The rest of the apartment was falling apart and the neighborhood was a little sketchy but our hydrangeas were to die for.
The only area where we differed was the vegetable garden. Jesse liked to experiment with exotic specimens like flying saucer squash and lunar white carrots. With limited space I wanted to stick with tried and true varieties that I knew would produce and not mess around with a few heirloom celery plants when that same space could be yielding baskets of zucchini. Jesse doesn’t cook so he was less invested in the garden’s yield.
In the end we came to the same solution that we had the year before and split the garden in two. I had three wonderfully successful tomato plants, cucumbers, zucchini, and herbs. Jesse managed to successfully grow six stalks of corn and hand pollinated them. In turn they produced three stunted ears of corn, which he was afraid to eat. Unfortunately, his lunar carrots space was taken over by my zucchini plant and the carrots didn’t make it. My bad. I made him zucchini bread as a consolation.
Outside of our adventures in urban gardening, the backyard was also great for parties. One time when our miniature (it was a small backyard) croquet party was rained out, we were stuck with several pitchers of sangria that I’d made in advance. I wasn’t sure how long it would be good for so I thought we’d better finish it that weekend just to be on the safe side. It was a very festive weekend.
Some sangria recipes can get complicated and involve lots of ingredients. This isn’t one of them. If you’re making sangria for a party then you’re already crazy busy with other party prep stuff. You don’t want a fussy drink recipe. This one is so simple. It makes a refreshing spring cocktail. Rose sparkling wine, berries, and Chambord give this drink a beautiful pink hue.
Berry Sangria (makes 6-8 drinks)
(Total time 15 minutes)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup chambord or creme de cassis
- 1 1/2 cups berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and/or sliced strawberries)
- 1 (750-ml) bottle chilled dry rosé sparkling wine (I use the cheap stuff for sangrias)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
- 16-20 mint leaves for garnish (optional)
Bring sugar and water to a simmer in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the chambord to the simple syrup.
Add berries into a pitcher or plastic container(s). Pour syrup over the berries and let stand 5 minutes. Add wine and lemon juice and stir to combine. Chill, covered, until ready to serve.
See the original recipe at Epicurious