Wild Booze Chaser

Eric Janes

The margarita is a border-town invention of relatively recent vintage; tequila has traditionally been enjoyed in Mexico with a chaser of sangrita, a juice-based drink that is legendary in its native Jalisco, the tequila capital. Predictably, numerous accounts exist as to the exact circumstances surrounding the genesis of this elixir—but according to one penned by Edmundo Sanchez, the drink was invented in the 1920s by his parents, Maria Guadalupe Nuño de Sanchez and her husband, Jose Edmundo. It is said to have happened like this: As they sat one evening in their Jalisco restaurant, La Viuda (The Widow), Jose was drinking tequila and sucking on a wedge of bittersweet blood orange that had been sprinkled with salt and ground red chile powder. Surmising that friends who were coming over to play cards and dominoes would want to enjoy something similar, Señora Sanchez improvised an easy-to-serve variation, squeezing some oranges and mixing in chile powder, salt, and fresh lime juice. The tangy, sweet, and spicy liquid, which the couple dubbed sangrita ("little blood"), proved a perfect match for tequila and became so popular that townspeople started arriving at the restaurant with containers in which to carry away samples of it. (They also began developing enhancements for the stuff by adding tomato juice, grenadine, and arbol chile powder or hot sauce.) For those occasions when you don't feel like mixing your own batch, the Cuervo tequila people import Edmundo Sanchez's version, "Sangrita Viuda de Sanchez".