Summer’s here, and my thoughts have naturally turned to some of my favourite things: time outside in the sunshine, vacation reads and refreshing beverages. Normally I accomplish this by pouring a shot of gin into a Slurpee and whiling away the afternoon in my hammock with a good book, but for this post I’m going to kick it up a notch and share a sangria recipe that’s inspired by a scene in Past Presence.
In the scene, Kellen, the bartender at the Soberly Inn and Public House, creates a special sangria to welcome the inn’s new owner, Audrey, to town. Here’s how it goes down:
As I’m about to ask him for a pint of the local microbrew, he slides a large wine glass full of ice in front of me and starts pouring something ruby-hued from a pitcher into it.
“I was going to—” I start, pointing at the taps, but he shuts me down with a scorching look that dries up my words. Even my thoughts are lost in his gaze, which is two parts exasperation and three parts lust. What does this guy want from me? Whatever it is, I’m half-tempted to give it to him, as imprudent as that would be.
“You are the most contrary, argumentative, difficult woman I’ve ever met,” he says. He’s leaning forward over the bar, and it wouldn’t take much for me to meet him in the middle. “Just this once, stop trying to get the best of me and trust me. Okay?” I purse my lips and raise an eyebrow, but I don’t reach for the glass. Even though it looks delicious. Even though I feel like the icy drink is the only thing that will keep me from spontaneously combusting on the spot. “It’s sangria,” he tells me in a more conciliatory tone. “Special of the day. I’ve been brewing it all afternoon, just for you, as a welcome-to- town.”
“No, you haven’t.” The words come out before I have time to think, and his stare intensifies. One eyebrow arches above the other. Wordlessly, he points at the chalkboard over his shoulder, where the specials are scrawled. Underneath the catch of the day, it reads “The Apple of Audrey’s Eye: a cabernet sangria infused with three types of Oregon-grown apples, fresh California citrus, and a slug of gin.”
“Yes, I have. Now taste it and tell me how it is. I wanted you to be the first, so I’ve been telling everyone else it isn’t ready yet.”
The sincerity behind the gesture evaporates my playful defiance and brings me perilously close to tears. I’m not used to being treated so kindly by a near stranger, even a too-flirty-for-his-own-good one.
“Well?” he asks after I down a healthy mouthful, rolling it over my tongue and allowing it to cool my heated cheeks.
“Dangerously good,” I tell him, and I mean it. “This could become a serious addiction for me. You need to tell me how to make it.”
“Absolutely not,” he says with mock outrage. “A good bartender never shares his recipes, but there will always be a bottomless pitcher here, waiting for you. That’s a promise.”
“Bottomless pitcher, you say.” I’ve already drained my glass, and I’m starting to feel lightheaded.
“You just tell me when to stop.” That look again. I’m burning up inside. What else to do, but keep on drinking?
Want to give it a try for yourself? I can assure you, it’s beyond delicious.