Now, I want to address a realization that most of you probably had at some point during the Summer Cup discussion, and that realization is:
Wait, so a Summer Cup is basically just Sangria…
In the sense that Sangria is a light, fruit infused summer drink that’s occasionally served sparkling and has a number of different expressions, then yes. Summer Cup and Sangria look and act much the same. They’re both great for parties or backyard barbecues, and you can usually throw one together with a single trip to the grocery store or whatever you have lying around the house.
The Historical Problem with Sangria
One problem with Sangria, though, is that historians and bartenders can’t really agree on where it comes from. It emerged in its current form at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City, where it was served as the official drink of the country of Spain in an effort to help popularize Spanish wine, which at that time was really looked down upon as inferior. Ironically, this didn’t really do much for the wine’s reputation because it still implied that the best way to drink Spanish wine was to mask its true flavor with fruit.
But let’s look at the linguistic base for sangria – sangre – a word that means “blood” across the romance languages.
Clearly, this name refers to the red wine base that provides the color of this beverage, and this little etymological factoid connects us back with a much older drink called the Sangaree.
The Sangaree: A Proto-Cocktail
This proto-cocktail holds down a really important part of the historical development of the cocktail. It’s one of a few bridges between the age of punch in the 16- and 1700s and the age of individually served mixed drinks in the 1800s and beyond.
One thing historians generally agree upon is that the Sangaree is basically a single-serving punch.
You’ve got alcohol from whatever wine you use (most popularly it was port wine or sherry). Then you’ve got a bit of sugar, a bit of citrus if it was available, and a little grated nutmeg on top for your spice. This was usually a shaken cocktail and with that dilution from the ice, it would put you in the general vicinity of punch potency at least where ABV is concerned.
Breaking(ish) News: Sangria DOC
One last thing to note about Sangria, in terms of recent developments, is that Spain and Portugal have managed to push a regulation through the European Union that grants them a sort of geographical dominion over Sangria in the same way that France has Champagne and Italy has Prosecco. In other words, if it comes from any country besides Spain or Portugal, they have to call it German-style Sangria, or some other type of Sangria – none of which sound nearly as appealing as the genuine article.