Restaurant culture today is exploding and growing in ways never before seen. As people become more adventurous about exploring Latin fusion cuisine and other new styles of cooking, as well as placing more emphasis on fresh ingredients and sustainable farming, customers are raising their expectations for their experience when they go out for dinner. This is not just limited to what comes out of the kitchen but also when it comes to what they are drinking with their meals. Two styles of drinks that have become synonymous with these new desires are sangrias and margaritas.
Sangrias and margaritas had their first moment in the sun during the 1970's when they were seen to be an exotic counterpart to the more typical cocktails and basic wines prevalent at the time. Not only were their flavors substantially different from other drinks, they also brought with them a sense of conviviality and enjoyment; by drinking sangrias and margaritas, any occasion suddenly turned into a party.
The downside to both of these drinks, however, was the fact that they were primarily made from processed ingredients. Loaded with sugars and artificial mixes, what they offered in consistency they surrendered in authentic flavors. One national chain during the 1970's made a name for itself by offering unlimited beer, wine and sangria with their meals. In order to ensure customers across the country got the same sangria at every location - and to allow the company to offer unlimited versions of it without losing money on the deal - concessions were made in the ingredients. Basically freshness lost out to financial concern.
Today, as people are more concerned with the ingredients they are consuming, bars and restaurants have gone back to creating sangrias and margaritas that focus on freshness. Today's typical margarita no longer uses an overly sugary mix but instead is made up for fresh lime juice and agave nectar. Bars are exploring new flavors by using fresh strawberries, watermelon and other fruits, and some are even bridging the gap between the food and drink by creating spicy margaritas using jalapeno peppers. On the sangria side, bartenders are learning that sangria recipes are as unique as the regions they come from and are focusing on creating different flavors and styles based on what they are learning. The biggest change was the introduction of white sangria, which more than anything else has helped to fuel the sangria boom.
Sangrias and margaritas make up an important element of the experience people expect when they go out to dine on Latin fusion cuisine. That expectation is being rewarded by new flavors and styles that even a decade ago would never have been considered. With this new emphasis on flavor and freshness, it looks like the day in the sun has come back for sangrias and margaritas.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has been covering the food and beverage industry for more than 20 years. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com