Second Helpings

Sangria Says Summer in Denver: Three Places to Try It

Nothing says summer like sangria. Cucina Colore, the Cherry Creek mainstay that I review this week, serves both red and white versions. I'm partial to the white, with cantaloupe, mango, pineapple and papaya that all pack a fruity punch from the brandy, orange curacao and peach schnapps in which they’re macerated. Chef-owner Venanzio Momo first encountered what he calls New World sangria years ago in New Jersey. The bartender there was reluctant to part with the recipe, but by the end of the night Momo walked away with it, thanks in part to what he jokingly calls “a little cocktail persuasion.”

Other spots around town also feature sangria. At Comida Cantina in the Source, owner Rayme Rossello modeled her recipe on red and rose versions she enjoyed on a family vacation long ago in Spain, where the drink was served in a hollowed-out watermelon. Sangria is presented in a more conventional manner at Comida, by the glass and by the carafe, but watermelon is known to make an appearance alongside other fruit when it’s on hand. Unlike many recipes that rely on brandy for fortification, the red version here is loosened up with tequila.

At Boulder’s Centro Latin Kitchen, the drink gets even more interesting. Bartenders amp up the fun with elderflower and blackberry liqueurs, which add a fruity sweetness to the red or white wine and brandy. “We make it as refreshing as possible on a hot day,” says Jennifer Broyles, director of operations for Big Red F Restaurant Group and Centro’s acting general manager.

I’ll drink to that.

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Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz