I'm always looking for a new refreshing summer cocktail. And the search, of course, is half of the fun! In honor of Chile winning the Copa America this past weekend, I thought I'd introduce my readers to a delicious Chilean summer drink staple. While on a city tour in Santiago, Chile, my friend Jess and I were pointed in the direction of a very famous, time-worn dive of a bar/ restaurante favored by old men playing cards, eating overstuffed sandwiches and sipping on local wine cocktails. We knew once the the tour ended, we'd do a B-line for the place. It's called Bar Restaurant de la Union, and it seemed fortuitous that it was located on a street named for my home city: Nueva York. Once inside, we admired the dark wood paneling and the old-school waiters who looked like they'd been there since before Pinochet. We decided a snack was in order, so we enjoyed some delicious bocadillos (sandwiches)...and of course the drink that our guide had described to us as the thing to order here: Borgoña. This is a sort of Chilean sangria, refreshingly simple and using two star ingredients from Chile's rich earth: delicious red wine, preferably of the Carménère varietal, and frutillas, which is Chilean Spanish for strawberries.
These strawberries, it needs to be stated, were some of the most gorgeous specimens I've ever seen in my life (and living in Rome for the better part of a decade, I know from gorgeous strawberries)! They most likely don't need any help in Chile, or in Rome for that matter, but if you can't find ripe, ruby-red strawberries where you are, you might want to add a touch of sugar to the mix. Now, like most things, this drink gets better the longer it sits with the fruit macerating in the wine. But you can also mix in the berries (sugar optional) just before you make a batch. Yes, "batch" is more realistic than "glass" -- this is not the kind of drink of which you make just one, if you know what I mean. And yes, there are variations on it. You can make it with white wine and strawberries, or white wine with peaches (great with a sauvignon blanc from Chile's Central Valley -- the peaches pick up the hints of stone fruit in the wine itself). This is called Clery or Ponche. You could add various kinds of berries, as well --- raspberries and red currants to tilt it towards tart, blackberries and blueberries to bring out the inky ripe berry flavors in the wine.
The basic recipe is simple. Slice one cup of delicious, ripe strawberries, one bottle of Chilean red wine, and a tablespoon of sugar (optional). Mix with ice, or simply chill in the fridge, either for several hours or just 30 minutes, if you can't wait. And sip! That's it -- it's so simple, but so refreshing on a hot summer day. And it's the perfect drink to toast to the Chilean team, Copa America winners...and, while you're at it, toast the American Women's Soccer Team for a fabulous World Cup victory yesterday, as well! (Hmm...I may need to come up with a cocktail just for the women's soccer team....)
Bar Restaurant de la Union
Nueva York 11
Santiago Centro, Santiago, Chile
+56 2 269 61 821