Saturday, May 22, 2010

Celebrating Anna!

Today we celebrated the 40th birthday and recent graduation of our dear friend Anna. It was supposed to be a surprise party, but she hates surprises, so we did our best to keep what we could a secret from her. Friends and family poured into their Northgate-area home with gifts, food, drinks and lots of love for Anna - who gives out all of the above in spades, and deserves every bit she gets in return.

Her husband, Jason, had some catering done by Madres Kitchen, and her boss brought a bunch of desserts. That's most of what I captured in the photos here at the start of the party... then more and more food arrived with every guest, turning the banquet table into an overflowing cornucopia of delicious foods and treat.

Dan & I were asked to make up a special cocktail for the event, and Dan quickly thought up the perfect Spring drink in honor of Anna: Santa Maria Cat Wine Sangria.

You see, Anna LOVES a particular type of Reisling that comes in a cat shaped bottle, and it's become a tradition at parties at Anna & Jason's that a cat bottle comes out - often refilled just so we can drink from the cat. Anna also grew up in Santa Maria, California and went to Santa Maria High School, thus the name.

The Sangria recipe we used as our jumping off point was one Dan found online. It was pretty general, so I consulted with a new little cocktail book called Just Margaritas and Sangrias: A Little Book of Liquid Sunshine I picked up as a secondary reference.

We used up seven bottles of cat wine, two 2-liters of club soda, 1 or 2 bottles of apricot brandy, two 64oz cartons of orange/pineapple/banana juice, a pound of strawberries and a whole pineapple. Here's the original recipe, for reference:

White Wine Sangria
2 - 750 ml. bottles of dry white wine (Pinot Gris, Chablis, Chardonnay, Riesling, or Sauvingnon Blanc) chilled
1 cup fruit brandy
Fruit juice of your choice (I use fruit juice instead of sugar to add some sweetness)
Granulated sugar or Simple Syrup to taste (optional if not using fruit juice)
Fresh fruit (use whatever combination of fruit and berries that are in season), sliced*
2 cups club soda, 7-Up, seltzer water, lemon-lime soda, or sparkling water (optional)
Ice cubes

In a clean vessel, large enough to accommodate the wine, brandy, and fruit (pickle jar, sun tea jars, etc), combine the wine, fruit brandy, and fruit juices. Pour in the sugar or simple syrup, stir or shake the pitcher thoroughly to mix. Add the cut up fruits of your choice.

Add ice. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the fruits flavors to come through.

Serve the Sangria over ice in large wine glasses. Fill serving glass half full with ice. Pour the sangria over the ice. Add a few slices of the marinated fruit along with some fresh berries. Garnish each glass with a mint sprig and serve immediately.

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