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Sangria Confidential: DC and Maryland’s Best
The Virginia Alcohol Control Board has started enforcing an obscure 1934 law banning the mixture of wine or beer with spirits. This means that residents of the Commonwealth will be forced to head north for real sangría—that delicious Iberian concotion of By Peter Bryce
Comments () | Published May 8, 2008

We’ve put together a list of DC and Maryland sangrías for those bold Virginians determined enough to cross the border for a taste of Spain. Have your own suggestions? Leave them in the comments.

Taberna del Alabardero
1776 I St., NW
202-429-2200
Glass $7, pitcher $28
Happy hour: Glasses and pitchers half price weekdays between 3 and 7

Taberna, one of DC’s finest restaurants, does sangría right. Good wine (red or white) blends with brandy, triple sec, fresh fruit, and a few extra ingredients the bar isn’t willing to divulge. The result is a classic Spanish punch, dry and not overly fruity, with a simple taste that goes perfectly with tapas and paella. The happy hour, which also offers half-price tapas, is one of DC’s best bargains.

Casa Oaxaca
2108 18th St., NW
202-387-2272
Glass $6, pitcher $32
Happy hour: None

Red wine fuses with pineapple, peach, apple, and brandy. The sangría here is sweet and juicy, an easy-drinking cocktail to accompany Oaxaca’s traditional Mexican fare, and its sweetness isn’t overpowering. The Adams Morgan spot also serves up an amazing Caipirinha, the Brazilian mixture of rum, sugar, and lime. 

El Tamarindo
1785 Florida Ave., NW
202-328-3660
Glass $6.79, pitcher $25.99
Happy hour: None for sangría

This Mexican and Salvadoran restaurant on the edge of Adams Morgan kicks up its red and white sangrias with a generous amount of tequila. Served in a deep-bottomed wine glass, this sangría packs a punch. One or two glasses will have you toasting your friends and loudly ordering another (perhaps ill-advised) pitcher.

Jaleo
480 Seventh St., NW, 202-628-7949; 7271 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-913-0003
Glass $6.25, pitcher $21
Happy hour: Glasses $3.50 Monday through Friday 5 to 7

A solid but unspectacular blend of classic ingredients makes for a pleasant companion to José Andrés’s tapas. The white sangría with Champagne and strawberries is attractive—but not as tasty as the standard red, a simple offering that doesn’t try to do too much and ends up giving plenty of reason to ask for another glass.

La Tasca
722 Seventh St., NW, 202-347-9190; 141 Gibbs St., Rockville, 301-279-7011
Glas $5 to $6.75, pitcher $19 to $25
Happy hour: $3 glasses and $13 pitchers every day from 4 to 7

Sangría is one of La Tasca’s biggest draws; it’s got a list of nine options to choose from. Many of the glasses trend to the watered-down side, but there are some finds on the menu. The Sangría La Tasca, spiced with cinnamon, is flavorful and dry, while the Cadillac Sangria is Tasca’s best: traditional sangría with a solid wine behind it.

Chi-Cha Lounge
1624 U St., NW
202-234-8400
Glass $6, pitcher $30
Happy hour: $4 glasses and $20 pitchers from 5 to 8 Monday through Friday

A nontraditional sangría, this pink concoction is not for everybody. Missing are the chunks of fruit swimming on the top, and it seems to be heavy on the juice and very easy on the wine. There’s a spicy sweetness to this one that makes the flavor interesting at best, cloying at worst. The signature Sangria Chi-Cha kicks it up with cinnamon and other spices; the result is a drink that smells and tastes something like a Christmas fruitcake. You’re better off trying one of the bar’s tasty mojitos.

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Posted at 08:02 AM/ET, 05/08/2008 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Blogs