Drink This Now: Smoky Beer Sangrita


Photographs: Elana Lepkowski

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Sangrita, the spicy tomato and citrus shooter that accompanies a shot of tequila, is a refreshing burst of flavor that shouldn't be confined as a chaser in the world of drinking. For a lighter style cocktail that you can sip during an afternoon outdoors, this beer based cocktail steps up sangrita into a full fledged drink of its own. Even better: the recipe is meant to be mixed by the pitcher ahead of time, and each drink is topped off with a bright IPA when served.


Prepping your sangrita base ahead of time isn't just convenient: I found that it actually helps the flavor to let the mix sit and mingle for an hour or two. The end result is a balanced, well-incorporated base with plenty of bright citrus peeking through the tomato. Harissa, a Tunisian hot pepper paste, adds a touch of smoky spice. If you like it really hot, increase the harissa to taste.

You might make your Michelada with light lager, but all the citrus in this drink makes it an ideal match for a sixpack (or case) of your favorite hoppy IPA. Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point does the trick, imparting bursts of grapefruit and lemon to the flavor and aroma, complementing the tomato-citrus base and adding some bitterness to balance the drink. It offers a smooth, almost creamy texture that helps it feel more like a cocktail and less like juice. And at the end of the day, if you run out of the sangrita base, this beer pairs excellently with whatever's on the barbecue.