Port Wine Sangaree

Port Wine Sangaree
1 1/3 Wineglasses of Port Wine. (Generous 2 oz Smith & Woodhouse 1999 Late Bottled Vintage Port)
1 Teaspoonful of Sugar. (1 teaspoon caster sugar)
(1 oz Chilled Sparkling Water)
Fill tumbler 2/3 full of ice. Shake well and grate nutmeg on top. (Err, well, as in the previous two Sangarees, muddle sugar in a splash of soda water to dissolve. Add big ice cube, pour over port, stir briefly, and top with an ounce of Chilled Sparkling water. Garnish with Lemon Twist and Nutmeg.)

I’ve been annoying the wine clerk at Canyon Market this week, he keeps asking me what I need, hoping to make some swank and perceptive wine recommendation, and I say “Well, I need some Madeira for a 18th Century Drink I’m making.” Fortunately, they do have small, but decent, selection of fortified wines.

I had to explain the whole Sangaree thing, and he got it right away. “You mean something you could drink on your lunch our and your boss wouldn’t fire you?” Exactly. Just enough to take the edge off, but not enough to get much of a buzz.

Or, as David Wondrich remarked last night at the Cointreau event at the Boothby Center for Beverage Arts, “…They just didn’t have bottled soft drinks back then, and sometimes you’d want something a little milder than a cocktail.”

Anyway, I picked this Late Bottle Vintage Port, because I wanted a Port with enough “grip” to stand up to being diluted. So many of the modern Ruby Ports are being made in such a mild, sweet style, as to be nearly Sangarees without adding the extra water and sugar for dilution.

This Port Wine Sangaree and the Madeira Sangaree were definitely my favorites of the bunch. Give them a try some hot summer afternoon and tell me they are not great drinks.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Sherry Sangaree

Sherry Sangaree
Use small bar glass.
1 Wineglass of Sherry. (2 oz Solear Manzanilla Sherry)
1 Teaspoonful of Fine Sugar. (1 Teaspon Caster Sugar)
Fill tumbler 1/3 with ice, and grate nutmeg on top.

Sorry, was kind of grumpy looking in the video. I made it once, and didn’t realize the batteries on my camera had given out. Then realized the spare batteries weren’t charged, either. Ran around the house looking for actual AA Batteries, only to find those were all dead, too. Fortunately, by that time, the rechargeables had gotten enough charge to record the brief video.

Anyway, after writing the last post, I thought to myself, “Hey, Self, you should look this up in David Wondrich’s Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar. and see if he has anything to say about Sangarees.”

And, even though the Sangaree was an Old Fashioned drink by the time Jerry Thomas wrote his book, they are covered.

This is my favorite part of Mr. Wondrich’s writeup, “As longtime East Coast bartender Jere Sullivan recalled in 1930, ‘In the Author’s experience it was found principally the order of the elderly business man, after the counters were closed in the late afternoon.’ But not every drink has to play the classic American go-getter, all youth and drive and swagger. The Sangaree maintains a certain Old-World courtliness that has its appeal.”

Well, that and his comment, “Sangaree…was drunk in Britain by gentlemen and sea-captains and in America by infants, invalids, and Indians.”


Here’s Jerry Thomas’ version:

Sherry Sangaree.
(Use medium bar-glass.)
Take 1 claret glass of Sherry wine.
½ tea-spoonful of fine white sugar.
2 or 3 small lumps of ice.

Shake up well, strain into a small bar-glass, serve with a little grated nutmeg.

The one thing, I think that Thomas and the Savoy miss out on, is that the drink should be milder than just being shaken with ice. I mean look at the Miss Leslie version referenced in the Savoy Sangaree recipe, “2/3 Water, 1/3 Sherry”! That is a very mild drink. So, in both the Savoy Sangaree I made and this Sherry Sangaree, I’ve added about an ounce of Sparkling water to the 2 oz of fortified wine I’ve stirred briefly on a cube.

Maybe I’m heading towards “Elderly Business Man” status, myself, but I have to admit I quite enjoyed all the Sangarees I’ve made so far, including this one with Sherry.

The music is from a CD called “Moa Anbessa” by Dutch group The Ex and Ethiopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekuria.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Savoy Sangaree

Savoy Sangaree
1 Teaspoonful Powdered Sugar. (1 tsp Caster Sugar)
1 Glass of Sherry or Port. (2 oz Cossart and Gordon 5 Year Bual Madeira)
Stir well and strain into medium size glass, add slice of orange or lemon peel, and a little nutmeg on top. (Errr… Muddle Sugar in a like amount of water until dissolved. Add piece of ice, pour over Madeira. Stir until chilled and top with 1 oz Chilled Soda Water. Drape on Horse’s Neck of Orange and freshly grated nutmeg.

Well, that’s interesting, the fact that the Savoy bothers to list a branded version of the Sangaree! To me, that seems to indicate that it was still being made at the Hotel, or at least lingered in their bar book, by the time the Savoy Cocktail Book was written in 1930!

For this post, I’m going to lean a bit heavily on the shoulders of two of my inspirations in the cocktail writing field, Paul Clarke and Ted Haigh.

The History of Sangaree Cocktails, Ted Haigh, Imbibe Magazine

According to this article, the earliest mention of the Sangaree was around 1736 as some sort of Madeira punch served in the Strand District of London (adjacent to the Theaters and Savoy Hotel!) Well, if that was the earliest version, I believe that base is where I will start, especially since Port Wine and Sherry Sangarees are covered in the next two drinks.

However, a more interesting description comes in 1785, where someone describes an Arrack Punch as a Sangaree.

Certainly by 1785 the strange drink, now called sangaree, was thoroughly equated with the Antilles islands and with Spain. Several dictionaries now listed the word and pointed to the West Indies as its place of residence. It had also achieved a fuller definition and one obliging it more to punch than wine. The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, published that year, wrote, “Sangaree: Rack punch was formerly so called in bagnios.” Well, a bagnio in this sense was a brothel, and the “rack” punch referred to the arrack that was the first of five elements in classic punch: arrack, citrus fruits, spices, cane sugar and water. The arrack in the dictionary was not the anise-tinged spirit of the Middle East but the father of modern rum, Batavia Arrack from the Antilles, Java specifically. Given this definition, the sangaree was a single-serving punch!

Well, not much to go on, but according to Ted, by 1837, recipes similar to the Sangaree had begun to appear in print as in, “Directions For Cookery In Its Various Branches” by a Miss Leslie, “Mix in a pitcher or in tumblers one-third of wine, ale or porter, with two-thirds of water either warm or cold. Stir in sufficient loaf-sugar to sweeten, and grate some nutmeg into it.”

Interesting really, that Wine, Ale or Porter can be used as a base for the Sangaree, but 2/3 water to 1/3 Wine, Ale or Porter? That’s some weak sauce to modern tastes, why on earth would you dilute beer, unless you were feeding invalids or children? In 1867, the Professor, Jerry Thomas is a bit more circumspect, prescribing that just about any base spirit may to be used as a base for a Sangaree, irrespective of that making it an identical recipe to his Slings. Well, due respect to Mr. Thomas, but that is just a bit Catholic of him.

As things go, I’m going to propose that the Sangaree be limited to non-spirituous bases: Wine, Fortified Wine, or, well, if you are feeling particularly perverse, beer. A little citrus peel won’t hurt anyone, or, as was the style of the 19th Century, maybe “berries, in season.” If you’re going to use distilled spirits, you might as well go ahead and call it a Sling (or Toddy).

The only thing I will further note, is that by 1867, when Jerry Thomas published his cocktail guide he offers one improvement over Ms. Leslie, using Ice to cool the drink, instead of water, and a fine, fine improvement that is, especially with a drink already somewhat dilute!

Port Wine Sangaree, Paul Clarke, Cocktail Chronicles

OK, at least half of the appeal of making this drink is the opportunity to say (or in this case, write) “Sangaree.” If you’re looking for a new way to get tossed out of a bar, you could do worse than making it a habit to stroll in, rap loudly on the bartop with your knuckles and shout, “Barman! A Port Wine SAN-GAREE, extra nutmeg, s’il vous plait — and keep ‘em comin’!”

And that’s why these men actually get paid to write articles!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.