Cocktails With Mija


Last summer I had the opportunity to write a review of Latitude Beverage Company’s Mija Sangria, a bottled version of the timeless wine-based punch. You can find the review here, and while I don’t want to discourage you from poring over every word of my scintillating prose, here are the highlights:

1) I liked it, and was impressed that its makers were able to capture the flavor of a fresh sangria in bottled form.

2) It was a little too sweet for my taste, and I thought it called for some customization; for instance, adding brandy to give it some depth.

3) I thought it would be interesting to use it as the basis for a cocktail.

On that last note, Mija actually encourages the use of its sangria as a cocktail ingredient. They even devote a page of their website to sangria-based cocktail recipes, with instructional videos made by some of Boston’s leading bartenders.

So when the good folks from Latitude asked me whether I’d be interested in revisiting Mija, I thought it would be a good opportunity to give their pre-made libation a whirl in some original cocktails.

Now look – I’m an avid home bartender, but I’m no mixologist. And I very rarely develop my own recipes. That said, I do have standards. So for each cocktail I worked on, I asked myself three questions.

First, if I ordered this drink in a bar, would I be happy with my selection?

Second, would I be willing to make this drink for a guest?

Third, if any of my industry friends were to read this post, would they roll their eyes and scoff at my cocktail-making ineptitude?

Unless the answers were “yes,” “yes,” and “maybe not,” the drink got poured down the drain. It was a process that was as challenging as it was educational. For instance, I learned that grapefruit is quite possibly the messiest fruit on the planet if you’re trying to extract its juice, and you should keep a full roll of paper towels at the ready. I also discovered that you almost never need more than a half an ounce of mezcal in a drink. Yikes.

Ultimately, though, the endeavor was productive – I ended up with two recipes that I’m happy to share. Both cocktails are made with fresh ingredients, which is appropriate given the emphasis that Mija places on freshness.

And each cocktail is meant to not merely employ the featured ingredient but to showcase it. My goal was to complement and accentuate the flavors in the sangria, particularly the notes of pomegranate, açaί, and blood orange.

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Never Been to Spain

Lime and lemon juice factored heavily into my early experiments, but I soon discovered that grapefruit was the key. The sourness complements the sweetness of the sangria, providing a nice sense of balance to this gin-based drink. The result is a simple cocktail that’s a little dry, a little sweet, and a little sour, with the essence of dark fruit in the finish.

  • 1½ oz Mija Sangria
  • 1½ oz dry gin (I’ve been using Bombay Sapphire)
  • ¾ oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Scrappy’s orange bitters

Shake with ice, and strain into a chilled coupe glass.

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The Fourth Amigo

Sangria may be associated with Spain, but for this next cocktail, I looked to Mexico for inspiration. Combining sangria with tequila and mezcal, this is a smoky, fruity drink that’ll cool you down on a hot summer day – or warm you up on a clammy “spring” day like those we’ve been experiencing here in Boston.

  • 2 oz Mija Sangria
  • 1 oz blanco tequila
  • ½ oz mezcal (I’ve been using Montelobos)
  • ¾ oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • ½ oz fresh lime juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 2-3 dashes Scrappy’s orange bitters

Shake with ice. Strain into a double old fashioned or Collins glass over ice.

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And there you go. I won’t exactly be calling Backbar or The Hawthorne and offering suggestions for their spring menus, but I’m pleased enough with the way these came out that I can confidently encourage you to give them a try. Maybe you can improve upon them with a few tweaks, or maybe you’ll like them just the way they are. Either way, I hope you enjoy!

Note: The product described in this post was given to me free of charge. I offered to write this piece, but was not obligated to do so.

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