Best Thing We Ate

Best Thing We Drank: Redneck Sangria

By Danya Henninger  |  November 15, 2013
Credit: Danya Henninger

We recently hyped aquavit as an alternative to the overrated barrel-aged booze trend and mentioned that Hop Sing Laundromat was a good place to look for the Scandinavian spirit. Though Lê only does aquavit infusions on occasion - or by the request of regulars - he volunteered to create one just for us, and even develop a cocktail to use it in.

And so Redneck Sangria was born. We didn’t have any say over the name, but we did get to taste the creation and can report it’s delicious - and, like many of Lê’s works, dangerously easy to drink. The one caveat is that it’s not on the regular menu; because of the temporary nature of the infusion, it may or may not be available the next time you visit the Chinatown bar.

As the base, Lê uses Krogstad aquavit from House Spirits Distillery in Portland, OR, which he infuses with long rods of fresh pineapple for four to five days - any longer and the spirit is ruined, he says. A sip of the infusion on its own shows the sharp caraway notes of the aquavit have been tamed by the fruit but are still there as a solid flavor backbone.

Cocchi Americano is the next ingredient - sangria has to have wine in it, after all - and to that mix is added fresh-squeezed lime juice. It’s all shaken up and poured into a column glass that has been painstakingly layered with fresh cut fruit and crushed ice. The resulting drink is full of fruit flavor but has none of the cloying sweetness that comes with many sangrias. It’s like a trip to a tropical island that swapped out hula girls in favor of tattooed street dancers. We’re on board ($14).