El Quijote Sangria
Upgrade your picnic punch with this recipe from Manhattan’s iconic Spanish restaurant.
On the ground floor of Manhattan’s iconic Hotel Chelsea, neighborhood barflies—including many of New York City’s great creative minds—have long holed up in the kitchy El Quijote bar. Alongside massive helpings of lobster, paella, and chorizo, pitchers of vibrant red sangria were by far the drink pairing of choice from the time the restaurant opened in 1930 until it shuttered in 2018.
This spring, the beloved El Quijote reopened, now under new management, and bar manager Brian Evans felt it was important to honor the establishment’s storied history with a similar sangria recipe, albeit refreshed and updated for the contemporary palate. His recipe starts with a base of light and fruity garnacha wine, which he spikes with Spanish brandy and Bonanto, a bitter, white-wine-based aperitif flavored with 30 Mediterranean botanicals, sweet cherry, and orange peel. A few drops of store-bought balsamic reduction and a splash of cinnamon syrup enhances the sweetness, body, and complexity of the iced cocktail. Evans batches the drink out by the gallon ahead of time, and just before serving, he transfers the mix into a pitcher of ice and fresh, sliced citrus, then tops everything off with lemon juice and a froth of effervescent Cava. The result is at once thoroughly retro and deliciously current.
Featured in “Pitcher-Perfect Sangria Recipes to Sip Through All Season.”
For the cinnamon syrup:
- 1 cup white sugar
- 8 cinnamon sticks (lightly crushed)
For the sangria:
- 7 oz. garnacha wine
- 3 oz. Bonanto Aperitivo
- 2 oz. Lustau Brandy de Jerez Reserva
- 2½ oz. pineapple juice
- 1½ oz. cinnamon syrup
- ½ oz. balsamic reduction (store-bought or homemade)
- 5 thin orange slices
- 5 thin lemon slices
- 5 thin lime slices
- 1 thin pineapple slice
- 1½ oz. fresh lemon juice, to top
- 6 oz. Cava, to top