Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Catarina

"It's time to get out of London."

Cheryl and I looked at each other nervously. "Uh, what are talking about, Joe?" we asked, tentatively.

Joe explained that the weather here in Salem was similar to back in London about this time of year. But when the dreariness, damp and chill gets too much for those Londoners, they head for Spain. Or Portugal. Or some, like Joe, head to the Canary Islands for a little taste of summer to warm the chill out of their hides.

While we were relieved as to the state of Joe's stability, he continued to describe a drink favored by tourists on those holidays, and produced a special glass which he had brought in that he decided would best compliment this concoction. He named the drink after the Square where he tended bar in Las Palmas and witnessed the hold this cocktail had on visitors.

The Recipe:

Into a large wine goblet full of ice

- Add a 1 count of Chambord,

- Add a 3 count of white wine, (Pinot Grigio,)

- Add a 3 count of tonic water, (or equal parts tonic water/wine,)

- Stir.

- Add a handful of berries,

- Add a fresh slice of orange, (the orange is more important to the taste than the berries!)

- Ignore the straw and gulp fearlessly from the rim!

Original recipe by Joe the Bartender, Passage to India Restaurant, Salem, MA

Bartender's notes: Grand Canaria surprisingly has a very diverse and interesting grape population used to produce some very fine wines. Naturally in Las Palmas we would use one of the local wines. Another great choice would be a White Rioja but I find the extra expense is not really justified. I have also used Chambord instead of the original Cassis, as it is far more widely available. Note crème de cassis is the syrup and not the liqueur and should not be used; way to sweet.

Replace your sangria with the Catarina. I have worked in a number of Spanish bars, and trust me it is not a good drink. They use the cheapest red wine and whatever liquor in a plastic bottles the cheapest at the corner store. Also the fruit is usually the near-rotten fruit the market is about to throw out. The only guarantee you will get with sangria in Spain is the most wicked hangover of your life.

The best sangria I have ever had is ironically enough, here in the US. I suppose you guys have standards.

Chris' Notes: Thanks, Joe. Standards are important to us, booze-wise.

Impressions on the Catarina: This is a definite gulping brew. More like a 'Grown-up's Gatorade' in respect to refreshing. I can see a dozen or so of these ripping down quite easily on a hot summer afternoon, (or even a winter afternoon, if spent someplace appropriately tropical.) My "research partner" today is my wife, Cheryl, who, after taking a sip, declared the drink 'hers.' She concurred with Joe and me and took it to the next step saying that this would be the perfect drink when coming back from a long run.

That's refreshing! Like a vacation in a glass.

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