As much as spring and summer invite us to pause, relax, and enjoy ourselves, these seasons also beckon us to drink sangria! The name stemming from the Spanish word for blood, sangre, sangria’s rich and alluring color draws us in for a heady punch that generally combines wine, fruit juice, a sweetener, fruit, soda water, and brandy—all over ice. It is best served in a pitcher among friends (especially those who hop up often to refill the pitcher!). You may also see equally yummy white versions with grapes, peaches, or even kiwis lilting inside. Enjoy with an Antipasti Platter, many ideas for which are offered below.
When I think spring in Little Rock, I think of the porch at Caio Baci. When I think of Caio Baci’s porch, I imagine myself on it with friends, sharing stories, laughs, and a pitcher of sangria. Aside from this charming converted house’s seasonal restaurant menu, whose rival I’m hard-pressed to find in Little Rock, it offers a chef’s tasting menu and the largest half bottle wine selection in town. Plus, it’s just a festive atmosphere, no matter what the weather.
On the day of this photo shoot, my friend Stephanie and I were warmly welcomed at the bar by owner Suzanne Boscarolo and barkeep Neil Pedrick, who were generously willing to share the locally famous Ciao Baci Sangria Recipe. Make it at home with an Antipasti Platter of Spanish Savory Pantry Products (ideas below) if you can’t get to Ciao Baci, but if you can, I strongly recommend a trip to this Little Rock Shangri-La as fast as your heels can carry you.
Ciao Baci Sangria
- Wine (Red or White) and Orange Juice, 2 to 1*
- Splash of Brandy
- Garnish with Orange Slice, or Lemon and Lime Slices as pictured above
- OR Soak Oranges in Brandy Overnight
*The flexible “2 to 1” Ratio of this recipe allows you to make it for a pair or a crowd. 2 parts wine, one part OJ.
Sangria Notes from Ciao Baci’s Neil Pedrick: “The quality of the wine isn’t so important. In fact, I won’t even tell you what kind of wine we use but I will say it comes with a handle. It doesn't have to be a top wine or an expensive wine to make great sangria. Historically, sangria was a way to give new life to wine as it starts to turn.”
Sangria Notes from Erin: To Neil’s historical repurposing wine note, I say, to let wine begin to turn, those Spaniards clearly had different friends than I do! I love that you can find hundreds of different sangria recipes in books and online, and suggest experimenting with some items in the Savory Pantry like pure orange or lemon extracts, or INNA Meyer Lemon Shrub. Traditional sangria pitchers have pinched openings so fruit doesn’t kerplop! in your glass and make a splashy mess. Here’s a beautiful ceramic example from Wine Enthusiast. Ciao Baci had a simple clear glass version that was nice because it would show the color of the sangria, unlike the ceramic one, but my friend and I thought that the carafe was a safer choice for early afternoon!
One of the special things about Ciao Baci is the number of “rooms” one has to choose from, all with different views offering unique experiences. Stephanie and I sat on the front porch where we watched a mother bird feed her three little tweets in the nest she’d built atop a column. We rested our sangria glasses on a table made from an repurposed wine barrel. Another view was just down below on a concrete bench overlooking a lovely water feature where birds preened in the trickling water. Sit toward the back of the side porch and enjoy the clinks of glasses and forks around you; toward its front you’ll drink and dine beneath a stunning iron sculpture that winds up from the porch-anchored pine tree. Or, if the weather forces you inside, enjoy a candlelit evening surrounded by rotating artwork. No matter where you find yourself, you can be certain you're in for a great evening! And PS, they stay open on weekends until 2 am, which may seem late, but at Ciao Baci, the hours tend to melt away.
Savory Pantry Antipasti Platter*
- Manchego (generous slice)
- Spicy Plum Chutney from The Virginia Chutney Company
- Chorizo Rioja Dry Cured Salami with Paprika, Garlic, and Oregano from Olympia Provisions.
- L'Estornell Wild Caperberries
- Ortiz Spanish Anchovies
- Citrus Stuffed Olives (or any of our stuffed olives or olive products, including those with feta and garlic)
*Round up your favorite Savory Pantry Antipasti Products and call us for a custom gift! Mention this post, and we can include a copy of it in your recipient's gift box.