Sangria is a lovely and refreshing beverage any time, but even more so on simmering summer evenings. Traditionally made with wine, fruit and juice, and maybe a little brandy for an extra kick, Sangria is especially popular in Spain and Portugal—and at a couple of my favorite summer watering holes: the Temple Bar and Pepper Sisters in Bellingham. I recently enlisted some friends to help me taste three sangrias: red, white and rosé.
We started at the Temple Bar, which always knows the way to my heart. Their seemingly endless series of creative libations tempt me every single day (strawberry jalapeno margarita and fresh blackberry mojito, I’m talking about you two), and they always come up with perfect nibbles to pair with a drink (grilled halloumi, roasted fingerling potatoes, oh my). But we had sangria on our minds this time, and Temple did not disappoint, particularly because they make theirs with my favorite summer (and spring and fall) wine: rosé!
One sip, and I was smitten again. To the rosé base, Temple adds a hint of Licor 43, or Quarenta y Tres, a magical elixir made from a secret recipe of herbs, citrus and a hint of vanilla. And because Temple’s mixologists know that everything is better with fresh berries, they throw in plenty of plump and juicy local berries, and serve it all over ice. There’s a lime wedge for squeezing if you like. They often add citrus slices, too but will toss in whatever fruit is fresh and flavorful. Temple’s sangria has depth—the vanilla came through, and one of us even tasted kiwi.
Good food makes great drinks even better, so we decided on some little nibbles: a bowl of warm pistachios (a fun group activity) and olive tapenade. And because it was almost my birthday, I had to have dessert! It was an easy choice: peach and bourbon clafoutis, which is a light custardy-fruity summer dessert. This one, covered with big dollops of whipped cream, was perfect.
After Temple, we rode our bikes up Magnolia Street and down State Street to Pepper Sisters. We waited just a few minutes for a table on the patio—where sangria should be enjoyed in the summer! Pepper Sisters serves American Southwest cuisine, and to go with it, two more traditional sangrias: a white (blanco), made with white zinfandel and a red (rojo), made with (what else?) red wine.
Pepper Sisters’ sangrias are available by the glass, the ½ carafe or the full carafe. No berries this time, but lots of oranges and limes floated in the glasses, adding color while quenching our still-considerable thirst (remember, it was a simmering summer evening). We shared a carafe of red and tasted the white, too. They were both delicious, and I think it’s nice that both red and white wine lovers have a sangria of their very own.
We weren’t overly hungry, but if we had been, the Pepper Sisters menu boasts a dozen or more entrées that would have made each of us happy. My personal favorite is the Grilled Eggplant Tostada. Or is it the Blue Moon Enchilada? The vegetarian special is always good, too. It’s a tough call . . .. Where was I?? Oh yes, food: we decided to share a Southwestern Pizza. It was dark when we got it, so the photo doesn’t do it justice, but trust me when I say it hit the spot with a cornmeal crust, tomatoes, mushrooms and green chilis.
We still have a good five weeks (yay!) of summer left, so there is plenty of time to mix things up in the drink department. If you like wine, you’ll love sangria, so head to Temple Bar or Pepper Sisters for a glass (or a carafe) of red, white or rosé. It’s a great way to celebrate the summer in classic Spanish style!
Temple Bar 306 West Champion St., Bellingham, WA 98225 360-676-8660
Open Sunday – Thursday, 11:00 a.m. – midnight Friday and Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Pepper Sisters 1055 North State St., Bellingham, WA 98225 360-671-3414
Open Tuesday – Thursday, 4:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday 4:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Sunday 4:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Pepper Sisters on Facebook