The Friday Tipple: Potlikker Sangria

Potlikker Sangria

We’re on a warm drink kick, Boozers. The chill has set into our bones and we crave a hot cup in our hands as we sit by a crackling fire. What inspired us this time, however, was a sip of a local fennel-laced liqueur at Sixth Engine, a cozy bar close to our ‘hood; Don Ciccio & Figli’s richly dark liqueur, thick as molasses, made with cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, and a host of spicy elements, poses a conundrum that we couldn’t resist: how can you mix it into a cocktail? And for those of you who bought that bottle of Root on a whim, we’ve got you covered.

So we started with a potlikker. Usually, this is the highly-nutritious liquid that is boiled down from a pot of collard greens, but our version is made with fruit, which is simmered into a concentrated liquid that forms the base for a winter sangria. This is guaranteed to be the drink of choice for your flask as you tramp through the snowy woods in search of the perfect tree — or sit on the stoop bah-humbugging at the carolers.

Potlikker Sangria

We happened to have licorice root on hand to toss into our pot, which perfectly complements root-based liqueurs, but you can use a chunk of fresh fennel or some star anise instead, or, in a pinch, a cinnamon stick or a split vanilla bean.

1 large orange, cut into quarters with the rind on

2 lemons, cut into quarters with the rind on

1/2 cup pitted cherries (frozen is fine)

1 can of mandarin oranges in syrup (lychees would also work)

4-inch piece of licorice root, or a chunk of fresh fennel

cinnamon stick and/or split vanilla bean

2 cups water

1 bottle of red wine (go for something rich and fruity)

Root- or anise-based liqueur (we recommend Don Ciccio & Figli Concerto, if you can get it, or Root — or Sambuca, Ouzo, Pernod, Pastis, or Galliano otherwise).

Put the fresh, frozen, and canned fruit into a 3-quart saucepan; be sure to include the syrup from the canned mandarin oranges or lychees. Add the licorice stick or fennel and the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean and cover with the 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat slightly and continue to simmer for 30 – 60 minutes or until liquid is slightly thickened and reduced by half. Remove from heat and strain out solid ingredients. Return liquid to the pan and add wine. Warm gently over very low heat.

To serve: Warm a wine glass; pour one ounce of liqueur into the bottom of the glass, then top with 3 ounces of the warm sangria. Garnish with half of a fresh clementine or mandarin orange.


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