It’s summer and it’s hot. You want ice. Fresh fruit. Chilled drinks. And as much shade as possible. Wine – and not just white wine – is a great base for so many summertime drinks. Sommeliers across the region are incorporating pure and infused wine into all kinds of cocktails.
Sangria is the best known, of course. The wine punch from Spain, traditionally made with brandy, fruit and a sweetener, is easy to make in large quantities (and mostly in advance) so it’s perfect for outside gatherings.
Sparkling wines such as Prosecco offer other options, especially when layered with citrus and herbal infused alcohol or bitters. And spritzers – a simple combination of water and soda – always make a warm weather run.
DC newcomer Maple features a pair of Prosecco cocktails and has plans for more wine-based combos. Herbal Mist is made with house-infused basil vodka, sparkling wine, and simple syrup; its herbaceous notes balance the cured meats on Maple’s antipasti platter.
“As a wine-focused restaurant and bar, we thought it would be fun to incorporate wine in our cocktails as well. Prosecco is a natural choice for sparkling cocktails, especially for us with our Italian-influenced menu,“ said co-owner Lori Robertson.
Harth has its own take on Italy with a spritzer made from peach nectar, white wine, strawberries, lemon and orange. And at La Forchetta, mixologist Eric Felten introduced a pair of cocktails with classic Italian ingredients, including the Barolo-based Chinato – with rhubarb and orange notes — to its signature drink menu.
“[Wine cocktails] are not heavily alcoholic, which makes them very refreshing,” Felten added.
Masa 14 is pouring a trio of unique sangrias on its newly opened roof deck, including a ginny Pimm’s Cup punch featuring sparkling wine, gin, Pimm’s, lemon and cucumber.
“Sangria is the ideal summer sipper because it’s the perfect combination of thirst-quenching flavor. Sangria is a crowd-pleaser and gives us room to be creative with our recipes, plus it has become wildly popular and is not just seasonal,” said Masa 14 bar manager Marc Eber.
Estadio features wine cocktails with a sherry base: bar manager Adam Bernbach is a huge fan of the fortified wine made from white grapes. The Spanish restaurant also has porrons on the menu – wine cocktails that diners enjoy from a height. Order it and see.
The winetails at Ping Pong Dim Sum are accented with Asian ingredients that reflect the small plates menu. The St-Lemongrass Sangria features white wine, lemongrass and wine; the white wine-based Ping Pong cocktail contains lychee juice and Asian basil seeds. The light flavors draw out the sweetness in the restaurant’s signature pork-filled char sui buns.
For something completely different, head to Urbana. Lead bartender Obinna Emenyonu features Tempranillo, apricot cognac, crème de violette, orange bitters and cola in his new winetail. The rioja grape is more fruit forward, making it easier to blend with different flavors – especially cognac. Try it with pizza: Chef John Critchley recommends the roasted mushroom with herbs.
Maple: 3418 11th St. NW, DC; 202-588-7442; www.dc-maple.com
Harth: 7920 Jones Branch Dr. McLean, VA; 703-847-5000; www.hiltonmclean.com/harth
La Forchetta: 3201 New Mexico Ave. NW, DC; 202-244-2223; www.laforchettadc.com
Masa 14: 1825 14th St. NW, DC; 202-328-1414; masa14.com
Estadio: 1520 14th St. NW, DC; 202-319-1404; www.estadio-dc.com
Ping Pong Dim Sum: 900 7th St. NW; 202-506-3740; pingpongdimsum.us
Urbana: 2121 P St. NW, DC; 202-956-6650; www.urbanadc.com
Oya: 777 9th St. NW, DC; 202-393-1400; oyadc.com
Carmine’s DC: 425 7th St. NW, DC; 202-737-7770; www.carminesnyc.com
Andrew Stover, Wine Director & Sommelier at OYA Restaurant and Lounge, developed this tart and refreshing sangria using Traverse Bay Michigan Cherry Wine from his home state. He pours it at Oya, but you can easily make it at home. “It’s perfect for sipping on a hot summer day, and would work well with a bowl of fresh fruit topped with whipped cream,” Stover said.
Cherry Wine Sangria
1 bottle Traverse Bay Michigan Cherry Wine
5 ounces brandy or cognac
1 orange, sliced
1/2 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced
5-6 fresh strawberries, sliced
Sliced pineapple (optional)
Mix fruit, brandy and cherry wine together in large container and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Strain fruit and keep refrigerated. Serve over ice and top with dry sparkling wine or soda water.
At Carmine’s, bartenders use sweet Vermouth, a fortified aromatized wine, instead of brandy in their sangria recipes. The base of this fruity white wine mix can be made hours in advance, making it perfect for a picnic or barbeque.
Four bottles Trebbiano
¾ C cantaloupe syrup
3/4 C lemon juice
1 ¾ C Cinzano Bianco (Not dry vermouth)
¼ C Peach Schnapps
¾ C simple syrup
16 orange wheels (1/8 inch thickness)
16 lemon wheels (1/8 inch thickness)
16 lime wheels (1/8 inch thickness)
25 fresh basil leaves
16 cantaloupe crescents
Mix liquids, then pour into large wine glass filled with ice and spoon the garnishes into the glass.