How to Make Sangrita

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Not to be confused with the Spanish wine-and-fruit-based alcoholic beverage sangria, sangrita (meaning “little blood”) is a traditional accompaniment to a tequila served completo; a non-alcoholic sipper that cleanses the palate between fiery doses of agave.

Years ago I was taught that sangrita is a blend of tomato and orange juices, with the addition of something spicy (hot sauce, typically) for a little kick. But further research has convinced me that this American sangrita recipe, while still enjoyable and certainly prevalent, is not altogether authentic.

Real sangrita from the Lake Chapala region of Jalisco is made with Seville orange and pomegranate juices, with powdered chiles added for heat. Taking into account that even the most cocktailian bartender (professional or otherwise) doesn’t typically stock sour oranges or pomegranate juice behind the bar, I’ve worked up a recipe that should approximate the flavor of this spicy little sour orange and pomegranate chaser while still providing an authentic experience.

This is far from the final word on sangrita. I’ll still continue to enjoy the tomato varieties (1,2,3), but I think you’ll find a brightness and depth of flavor from this version that plays better with a wider variety of mezcals and tequilas than its heavier gringo cousin.

What’s your experience with sangrita? Chime in with your stories and recipes in the comments section.

Sangrita Print Me

  • 1 oz orange juice (freshly-squeezed)
  • ¾ oz - 1 oz lime juice (depending on the sweetness of your oranges)
  • ½ oz real pomegranate grenadine
  • 3 dashes hot sauce or ¼ tsp pasilla chili powder
  1. Mix ingredients, chill, and serve.

Recipe printed courtesy of jeffreymorgenthaler.com

50 Replies to “How to Make Sangrita”

  • Mixed up your recipe a few minutes ago. I have to say it is the best Sangrita I’ve ever had.

    I used Florida Juice oranges, organic limes, Fee’s Grenadine and Tabasco Sauce. I think I might double the recipe, pour it in an iced Collins glass and top off with Prosecco next.

    Cheers!

  • Wow, blair, that was quick! Glad you liked the recipe, I’ve been pretty pleased with it myself.

  • Sku says:

    Thank you, thank you for clarifying that sangrita should not have tomato in it. Too many times, you order it and get a little more than a citrus-spiked bloody mary mix.

    Like many, I first had sangrita while in Mexico. They make it fresh (or at least they used to) at the wonderful Bar La Opera in Mexico City. It was where I first learned to appreciate Tequila as as sipping spirit.

    I am excited to try your recipe. It’s a little late in the season, but what would you think about using blood oranges for the OJ?

    Also, is that your El Senorio Mezcal or is it stock footage? I really like El Senorio but have never seen it for sale in the US.

  • I think blood orange would be a very nice addition to the recipe – adjust your lime accordingly. And you have a great point about citrus-spiked Bloody Mary mix being passed off as sangrita. I don’t want to see any Worcestershire, horseradish or celery salt in my sangrita, thank you.

    And the El Señorio mezcal is all mine. I also have a bottle of the reposado con gusano lying around here somewhere. But thanks for thinking I could take a photograph good enough to be a stock image!

  • Tokyo Tea says:

    No tomato at all,I dunno dude. It seems to me that there are a lot of well respected mixologists (i.e. D. Degroff, Carpenter, etc.)that support earlier renditions. I’ve always believed to each its own but a LOT of your heroes include a splash of tomato

  • I know, I know. Even Rick Bayless takes a splash of tomato in his sangrita. But I’m going to stick to my guns on this one, and I’ll continue to take mine sans tomate.

  • Tom says:

    Jeffrey,
    Assuming we might be able to find Seville oranges and pomegranate juice, could you give us the real sangrita recipe?
    Tnanks,
    Tom

  • Tom

    Let’s try this – and do let me know how it turns out:

    1½ oz pomegranate juice
    1 oz sour orange juice
    3 dashes hot sauce or ¼ tsp chile powder

  • Boavida says:

    Thanks for the explanation of sangria/sangrita. I started to read your post looking for the sangria, and ended happy to have found the sangrita.
    I’ll be trying it soon, after the Euro 2008 games. Just one question, when you say chill, do you mean refrigerate or shake with ice? I feel you mean shake, but it isn’t very clear.

  • Boavida – I left that vague intentionally. You can do either, if you’re in a bar setting you might need to shake the mixture quickly with ice. However, I prefer my sangrita undiluted and refrigerate when that option is available.

  • Dominik MJ says:

    Dammit Jeffrey – to choose sangrita as topic was a genius strike!

    However I have to say, that even pomegranate is not ultra authentic!

    The origin of sangrita came from Don Jose Sanchez who used oranges, salt and chilis to make his homemade tequila a bit smoother…

    I am mixing accordingly orange juice, lime juice, salt and good chili powder together to get the authentic result.

    Here is the original post of his great-great grandson:

    >>The owner of the restaurant was named Jose Sanchez not Edmundo Sanchez. And the orange slices is right but they were not served at the restaurant, Don Jose Sanchez took a bag of oranges, some salt and some ground red arbol peppers with him when he would go out on his canoe on lake Chapala with his friends to drink tequila. He later had his wife squeeze the oranges and add the salt and chile to it and put it in a bottle for convenience on the canoe rides. The red artificial color was later added to make it look more attractive. When Jose died his wife kept the restaurant and she continued to make the drink for customers who named it sangrita because of it’s red color. Since she was a widow they always referred to it as Sangrita de la Viuda. You might ask how I know this? Well my name is Jorge Sanchez, Jose Sanchez was my great grandfather and Don Edmundo Sanchez the current owner of the factory where they make the sangrita is my grandfather. If you have any questions feel free to reply: [email protected]<<

    [authenticy is not verified]

  • Dominik – I am aware of this tale, and while it may or may not be ultra-authentic, I’m choosing to go the “authentic” route as I don’t find orange juice, salt and arbol chile powder all that delicious.

  • scott in the LBC says:

    I didn’t have any fresh oranges in the house when I read your post, but I did have Naked Juice: pomegranate/asai and orange juice. It’s probably not perfect, but what the hell.
    Anyway, I mixed up 3 oz of each juice, as well as 1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice. Then I added 1/3tsp of El Yucateco XXX Habanero hot sauce (which I don’t know if you get in Oregon…).
    Anyway, it turned out quite nice with the reposados I have here (Herencia, 4 copas, Partida), so I thought I’d send in a post for all those who have a good juice around but not the actual fruit.

  • Holly says:

    My introduction to sangrita was in the town of Tequila and it took a long time to recreate back in the states. I found this recipe and its pretty good:

    2 reconstituted ancho chilis
    2 c fresh orange juice
    2 Tablespoons grenadine
    1 tablespoon minced onion
    juice of a lime
    1/2 tsp salt

    Blend and chill…
    great chili taste and not a tomatoe in site…

  • Holly

    That’s a great-looking recipe, I’ll have to try this one!

  • Flynn says:

    What’s interesting is that *some* of the tequila meccas I’ve been to in Mexico (all serve sangrita), use tomato in their recipes. Stateside, the best homemade sangrita I’ve had is at El Agave in old town San Diego, and they also use tomato (and what tastes like agave syrup but could be pom syrup).

    Here’s a link to the recipe I’ve been honing over the years, and I certainly enjoy it. I wouldn’t hold it up as authentic, in any case.

    http://portlandfood.org/index.php?s=&showtopic=7139&view=findpost&p=87697

  • Treva Willis says:

    Hey Jeff! I was wondering if there is a certain type of tequila that is supposed to be enjoyed alongside the sangrita? Do you have any recommendations?

  • Treva – This will work with any tequila, but I find it goes quite well with a nice, peppery silver or reposado tequila. You can also tailor your sangrita to pair with specific tequilas, which would be an interesting experiment.

  • Brian Kust says:

    I travel a lot to Sinaloa state where I have learned to really enjoy a reposada with tequila. I have never gotten an exact recipe, but every time I ask a bartender what is in it, they tell me it is mostly orange juice and chile de arbol powder. I mistakenly thought the first time that it was tomato based.
    Another interesting way I have enjoyed tequila is sipped out of a hollowed out large jalapeno pepper. While this was an “interesting” experience, I prefer the sangrita.
    You have a great blog and I will visit often.

  • Michael Robertson says:

    Sangrita De La Viuda:
    3 cups orange juice
    3/4 cup lime juice (Mexican lime is better if you can get it)
    3 oz grenadine (Fee Bros works great)
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp Tabasco
    1/4 cup white onions
    Chill overnight and strain the onions out.
    I’ve had this recipe for years and when I was in Nogales I picked up several bottles of Sangrita that tasted almost exactly like it, but not quite as fresh.

  • RandyMan says:

    The best sangrita I’ve had stateside is one I got from Wine Con. mag
    6 oz fresh lime juice
    10 oz fresh sqoze orange juice
    12 oz tomato (I use Clamato)juice
    salt, pepper and hot sauce (I use Crystal)to taste.

    I found your sweet recipe after seeing a similar one in Esquire-OJ, Lime juice, grenadine and Cholula.

    Different strokes for different canoes

  • TTGIF says:

    Great posts! I am definitely trying these recipes – I like to get second and third opinions!

    I had sangrita for the first time in what was called a “Mexican Flag shot” at a restaurant in Saltillo, MX. It’s a shot of tequila, a shot of straight lime juice and a shot of sangrita, but these are no wimpy 1 oz shots – the glasses are 5 oz (bought one, brought it home and measured it – actually have been back since and now have a matching set for my own MF shots – and I do mean MF).

    I did it wrong the first round – shot the tequila like it was a body shot or a mustang, and had to be refilled. The helpful staff told me that I was supposed to sip from each and let the flavors mix in my mouth (it was delicious done that way).

    I actually had two different types of sangrita that night: one bottled and one homemade at the restaurant. This was because after I shot the tequila, I spilt my sangrita into the lap of the person next to me (yes, I am a clutz). I was refilled with both tequila and sangrita, and now, with several nearby tables alerted to the ruckus, attempted to complete the shot. I took several mixed sips (the right way), and then spilled the sangrita again – I am ashamed to say that it was into the lap of the same already-soaked tablemate. (I talk with my hands).

    Although this was one of the nicest restaurants in Saltillo (an certainly no slouch by world standards for fine dining), the staff found me very amusing, and so they decided to give me their own house-made mix “especial” for my third and final attempt performed for the entire restaurant and waitstaff.

    I tell you that to tell you this: The bottled variety had a translucent pinkish color and was slightly sweet, savory and spicy at the same time – there were absolutely no tomatoes in it, but I could detect “onion-y” flavor in addition to the spiciness. At the time, the taste of both was indescribable, but very memorable to me. Now, (with a clearer head, and one not overwhelmed by the excellent dinner fare – and, ok, the booze) had I been thinking of pomegranates, that would have gotten me close. IMHO, the citrus was very weak if there at all; the bottled mix might have used orange blossom water – there was no tartness to it (the shot of lime juice – which was amazingly smooth – took care of that).

    The fresh version definitely had tomatoes – it was almost like a V-8 in consistency, spicy, less, but still mildly, sweet and there were little pieces of onions chopped up in it. I still could not detect orange juice or tartness above the zing of tomatoes, so if it was in there, it was a very small amount proportionally.

    So it appears both tomato and tomato-less recipes may be valid from certain “south-of-the-border” viewpoints – although I realize that tastes and everything else vary greatly by region. I was given the recipe by one of the waiters, and wrote it down in what seemed legible handwriting at the time on a napkin (sangrita-stained, of course) – which reminds me: I really need to find it…

    Although there may have been some clothing casualties, both my American business colleagues and the waiters really enjoyed watching a big busted, Irish redhead who had been drinking “with the boys” all night try to finish this “nightcap.” The real challenge was walking out under my own power – huzzah for me, I did it! Irish girls rock! (*Hic*)

    Salud/Sláinte!

  • tilthouse says:

    I love sangrita. Was introduced when a neighbor who worked for COLEF took us on a tour of Tijuana (we live in San Diego). Then when we visited Mexico City last year, I was ordering bandas (a shot glass each of lime juice, tequila, and sangrita) every chance I got. mmmm…

    I will have to look up the recipe I found online that I liked. But I’m pretty sure it had a little tomato. It also had Maggi seasoning. Which worked very well.

    Up here in San Diego, if a place even has sangrita, it is likely to be very Kool-Aid-like. Not to my taste. Don’t know if that’s more authentic or less, but all the sangritas I had in Mexico (Baja and D.F.) appeared to have tomato (though I admit maybe it was something else providing a more earthy and savory taste?).

  • BMurph says:

    So what are people using for hot sauce? Getting authentic ingredients, and then using Tobasco seems a shame.(vinegar etc.) Does your chili add heat only? or flavor too?

  • g0_terps says:

    The best sangrita I ever tried was served at a Baltimore restaurant named the Blue Agave. I had attended a few tequila dinners, put on by the former owner/chef Michael Marx and he told me the basics to what was in it but he would not give specifics and I’m not sure he told me everything that was in it but it was chile based and he said it was New Mexican red dried chilis, a little habanero, cracked black pepper, pomegranite juice or syrup, fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, and kosher salt. He said that tomato based sangritas were a more recent creation and that the chile based sangrita was the authentic recipe. I’ve made it for myself and it has been pretty good but it doesn’t taste near as good as his. As for the commercial stuff – I don’t like it. If you make it fresh, with chile or tomato based you’ll still come out with a better alternative to commercial versions.

  • captain nino says:

    Every Bartender in Mexico (Baja and northern central) you talk to seems to have their own ‘authentic” version that involves a plethora of ingredients. In My experience it pretty much comes down to tomato base or non tomato based. I have had both and i personally prefer the tomato based versions.
    Btw,in almost All the tomato based versions in Mexico, “Clamato” is used instead of tomato juice.

    After trying many different recipes and lots of trial and error, this is what i came up with…. it seems to taste just right… to me anyway.

    Some ingredients you will have to get in the Ethnic food aisle of your grocery store.

    I will leave out the measurements,so just experiment till you come up with your own version:

    Clamato

    salsa inglesa (worchestire sauce)

    Jugo sasonador “Maggi” (seasoning juice brand name “Maggi”)

    Grenadine( for color and sweetness)

    Orange juice

    Lime juice( depending on the sweetness of the OJ)

    tabasco (or powdered red dried… chile arbol or new mexico )

    cracked black pepper, and sea salt to taste

    Enjoy

    oh and the Post about “El Agave” in old town San Diego having great sangrita is dead on…the MOLE’ there is awesome as well.

  • I first tasted Sangrita sitting around the Zolcalo in the Mexican City of Oaxca. We ordered Tequila, and the waiter brought us shots of this fiery, but sweet red juice to drink as a chaser.

    It became a must-have accompaniment for evenings centered around enjoying Tequila with friends.

    Apparently there are many recipes that use tabasco or cayenne, clamato, tomato juice, etc.
    It’s fun to experiment and create your own version. Mine is very simple:

    * 2 TBSPs Roasted chipotle sauce (Goya or Freda Kahlo brand in a can. Available in super markets where there is a large Mexican population.)

    *4 cups tangerine (or sweet orange juice)

    * juice of one small lime

    * 1 TSP salt

    Mix in blender. Makes about a quart. Serve chilled in shot glass with fine Tequila.

    Enjoy.

  • Kurt Friese says:

    I’m a little late (like, 3 years) tot the conversation here, but can you tell me please how much of this is served alongside X ounces of mezcal?

  • However much you like, Kurt!

  • Kurt Friese says:

    So, like a beer-back to a shot of whiskey?

  • Jack Sotti says:

    I love your authentic recipe! Its so effective and so god damn tasty! I’ve been experimenting with other flavours and gone way off the beaten track but I what I’ve found works pretty well is a green sangrita with apple juice, coriander and the green tabasco. Very tasty with a nice blanco!

  • Grahan says:

    Since its the season, just had a thought on the ‘sour orange’ part…

    Meyer Lemon!

    Can be eaten like an apple.. and could (potentially) be a nice alternative for those looking to play with the recipe!

    Just have to get my hands on some Meyers now…

  • Johnnie says:

    Love the recipes and have only got into tequila relatively recently , Norfolk in England is not renowned for its Tequila supply , but have now found great sipping.
    Have found that I like tomato-based the best and with the edition of Chipotle Tabasco ,it is sublime also the Maggi seasoning v.importante.Have also found a little hit of wasabi hot sauce adds an interesting kick.
    It’s not always about authenticity otherwise nothing evolves but sometimes just comes down to personal preference.

  • Steve says:

    @#30 I find an 8-9 glass perfect for a shooter of tequila. Viva la Sangrita!

  • Peterscone says:

    I read all the recipes for Sangrita above with great enjoyment. I thought that Sangrita was an obscure preparation. I learned about on it drinking tequila on the Zolcalo in Oaxaca one night.

    I make my version with the hot smoky sauce that is in with the roasted chipotle peppers, that has Frida Kahlo on the label. About a teaspoon for a quart. Then I use tangerine juice for sweetness, lime, salt and no pomegranate or
    tomato juice.

    My favorite tequila is Hornitos reposado, Heradura is good too.

  • Johnnie says:

    Like the idea of the adobo sauce being used . Drinking Dobell Maestro currently

  • Bob Swindells says:

    like the recipe … but not sure about the whole “No Tomato” thing.
    The only sangrita’s Ive had have been in Mexico not america and yet they have all had tomato as a component. That said the orange lime pom recipe is really great. I think tho that after a while it could be pretty acidic on the ol’stomach. Any comments from freuent users?

  • g0_terps says:

    Bob, here’s a good non tomato sangrita recipe to try and experiment with to suit your taste. I always tweak everything but anyway enjoy.

    episode 208

    http://patismexicantable.com/cgi-bin/mt5/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=3&tag=sangrita&limit=20

  • Thor says:

    I’ve got to give this a try. Sounds like a very interesting (and tasty) alternative to my current recipe. Funny thing, though…I learned my current recipe from a Mexican bartender in Jalisco…and he started his batch with 1 cup of pure tomato juice LOL

  • Jason says:

    Was just in the Yucatan and of course had to have my favorite Mexican aperitif as much as possible while there. As others stated, I’ve also always been served the tomato version of sangrita in Mexico. Bag stuffing some great tequilas back, I figured I’d just make my own sangrita rather than add another bottle to my overstuffed bag. Quick search lead me back to your blog (big fan of your book as well) and this unfamiliar sangrita. I know you do your homework, so tried this last night paired with a Tosoro Reposado, Iba 55 Mezcal, and a Revolucion Extra Anejo and I’ve got to say WOW! Totally different experience with the tequila. The tomato version, while pleasant, lingers too long on the palate and reminds me too much of a bloody marry mix. Your version is a revelation as it is clean, sweet, and refreshing. Brightens up the tequilas nicely and it dissipates from the palate quickly so that it doesn’t interfere with the next sip of agave. Mucho muchas gracias!!

  • Steve says:

    Whipping up a batch of your Sangrita. It is stewing in the fridge for a bit. I added a pinch of salt and a bit of onion. I had to use McCormick Chili Powder, as I could not find the type you specified. Was there a reason you chose that specific powder? Anyways, I am about to imbibe. I bought some Corzo Tequila. Silver. I highly recommend it. Max Respect.

  • stephen wheeler says:

    el jimador reposado is the way to go for the price. peppery and delicious

  • JT says:

    Great recipe! Tastes just like it should. As a old cocktail lover that grew up in Houston this is what I have been searching for…

    Any plans for a Michelada recipe?

    Thanks again and keep up the good work it is appreciated.

  • R says:

    Keep the thread alive.

    finally got around to trying this last night. delicious.

  • Jane says:

    I know it sounds twee, but a good middle ground for the tomato/no tomato debate is tomato water – gives the perfect essence, doesn’t mess with the consistency. Also I prefer fresh jalapenos or serranos run through a juicer to powder!

  • Don says:

    While we have a hard time getting sour juice oranges here anymore (So-Cal) – what we DO have popping up more and more commonly is Tangelos.

    Early in the season, they are quite tart (late season, they can get almost blood orange sweet…) I’d guess you could substitute tangerines as well, just avoid the sweet Cuties as you’re looking for the sour/tart/acidity.

    I’ve also seen all kinds of variations, with and without tomato – but the street corner fruit salad, with a bit of pico and a squeeze of lime makes the most sense as to it’s origin.

    Pineapple, mango, jicama, orange, lime, chile and salt. That’s the basic you’ll get almost anywhere.

    With that as a guide, the sky is the limit.

    I think I’ll make up a batch the next time I get some pineapple and tangelos from the market.

  • B.Buckman says:

    I have been a resident of Mexico for eighteen years and a drinker for sixty years. I have enjoyed the thread about sangrita. Although I learned years ago that tequila and I could never be friends my Mexican wife enjoys her ‘happy hour’ shot with sangrita. I have always bought the commercial brand Jimador sangrita, which she preferred, but in the last couple of years it has all but disappeared from local stores.

    Consequently, I’m going to experiment with the recipes offered in your blog and see if I can come up with something that satisfies not only the Señora but also her siblings who stop in occasionally for ‘happy hour’. Great site!

  • JT says:

    I guess it’s that time of year again…

    Much like my previous comment, I was looking up Michelada recipes and ran across Erick Castro’s recipe you posted on Playboy.

    http://www.playboy.com/articles/behold-the-healing-powers-of-the-michelada

    The recipe called for “¾ 1:1 simple syrup”, with no measurement listed. Assuming this would be listed in ounces it is equal to the amount of lime juice, is this correct?

    Still loving your insights a year later. Have a great summer!

  • George says:

    I have been drinking Sangritas for a few years now and have found that tiny tweaks in the recipe make a big difference in the final product.
    I really like the recipe you have here but please try these few changes and see if it pleases.
    The mouth feel will be enhanced with about 1/4 tsp of salt, maybe a little less. I make mine in batches so not exactly sure of the amount. The other change is to muddle some Jalapeno or even Habanero. The fresh peppers go better with the fresh lime juice and the fresh orange juice. The Jalapeno brings out the Agave in the tequila but is not hot enough for some. The Habanero brings out the fruit in the Sangrita.
    When you balance the recipe to your taste the Tequila and Sangrita will be like cookies and milk.

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