October 25, 2007

Calling All Vampires: Bloody Good Sangria

Blood Lab

I thought it was going to be a simple matter of adding twice as much cold water as usual to cherry JELL-O mix, but it turned out that making drinkable "blood" that is, matching the color, opacity and viscosity of blood in a delish, seasonally appropriate cocktail was far more complicated than I thought.

The thinned JELL-O came out too clear and globby, so I added a little chocolate syrup (the blood double in Psycho, according to my spouse, who used to work at a visual effects company), and the flow and color improved instantly. However, I couldn't help but make a face while tasting it. "Hey, it's not bad," my husband proclaimed, trying to be supportive. "Kind of like liquid cherry-flavored Tootsie Rolls." As though that was something you might actually voluntarily drink a glass of.

Read on for more blood and guts...

Glass of Blood

And thus began four nights of drinkable "blood" experiments, involving two flavors of Kool-Aid, three varietals of red wine, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, tomato juice, corn syrup, cornstarch, cocoa, flour, honey, milk, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, orange juice, raspberry sorbet, strawberry syrup, grenadine and two vials of red food coloring.

Oh, playing mad scientist had its moments. Like when I got all giddy to discover that both cherry and black cherry Kool-Aid mix look exactly like blood when just a little water is added. The only problem? Extremely strong Kool-Aid tastes disgusting. Cornstarch added to wine or pomegranate juice was another viscous contender (as it happens, blood's not just thicker than water; it's also thicker than wine and juice) and even tasted pretty good, but in the end I just couldn't shake the feeling I was drinking cherry pie filling.

Soon my kitchen counter laboratory was overrun with glasses and cups and bowls filled with teaspoons of liquid in shades of every red in the Crayola box. I took to testing new creations by dripping drops of them on the back of my hand. Did they look realistically gory or like I'd been caught with my fingers in the grape jelly jar? But after countless concoctions, flashes of inspiration and hours of trying this, that, and what if I added a spoonful of strawberry syrup, nothing seemed up to snuff. My drinkable blood sucked. Was the traditional Bloody Mary (which, ahem, is really quite orange) the closest I could come?

But then I started thinking about how the word for sangria comes from sangre, the Spanish word for blood. What if I skipped the fruit pieces and focused on making my Halloween version as bloody good as I could? Okay, you won't attract any sharks with this recipe if you pour it on your hand. But in the glass, it makes a pretty convincing fake and it's sure to satisfy your most bloodthirsty guests.

Bloody Good Sangria

  • 6 cups cheap red wine (the redder the better — try zinfandel, pinot noir or chianti)
  • 2 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups grenadine
  • 18 drops of red food coloring

Mix well in a large pitcher. Serve chilled or warmed to 98.6 degrees.

Think you can come up with a recipe for an even better blood doppelganger you can drink? Share it here!

Posted by Elizabeth on October 25, 2007 in Food and Drink , Parties

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9 responses to "Calling All Vampires: Bloody Good Sangria"

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I make fresh juice almost every day with my juicer and noticed that a certain blend of carrot, beet and cucumber juice looks a whole lot like blood--thick, opaque, dark red, etc. I don't know how well it would go over as a cocktail, but I'm guessing you could play around with adding fresh beet juice to other, more palatable recipes. Just a little bit really gives a good color plus they're pretty sweet--if you don't have a juicer you might try grating them and throwing them in the blender w/ your other ingredients (I've personally never done this so I don't know how well it will work vs. the juicer, but try straining the concoction if it doesn't blend up smoothly). Maybe beets, strawberries, some reddish juice, a touch of brown food coloring if it's getting to bright red . . . etc?? Then strain the whole thing to get rid of seeds, etc.

Interesting, Rachel...while I was working on this, a friend suggested beet juice, but I dismissed it because I suspected it would be too pink (plus it seemed hard to find and a little odd for a cocktail)--but now I want to try it!

Some people are allergic to beets!

I don't have any solutions, but I did found this site, which has a plethora of ghastly drinks: http://www.countessbloodshalloweenhorror.com/page4/

I wish I had a juicer! These recipes look good.

Here's a shot that's red and syrupy, and tastes just like Cherry Lifesavers.

It's moderately syrupy because of all the sugar in the ingredients. If you want beverages to be much more viscous, do what the professionals do, add vegetable gums such as guar gum, xanthan, and pectin, or add ingredients that contain them.

1/2 oz. Cherry brandy
1/2 oz. Grenadine
1/4 oz. Midori
1/2 oz. Sour mix

If you want to make it even darker red, add a little Chambord - but it will taste like a cherry-raspberry Lifesaver; if there is such a thing.

Sour mix is 1 part lemon juice and 1 part simple syrup. Simple syrup is made by boiling 1 part sugar in 1 part water, then cooling it. The longer you boil, the thicker it gets.

Thanks, Badgertender. I thought about cherry brandy, but the stuff I have in my liquor cabinet is clear. Guess they must make it in red too--I'll have to check it out! Interesting that you put Midori in it. A bunch of the recipes I found online for edible blood for use in film (in other words, it doesn't taste very good, but you COULD consume it) called for green food coloring to add a bit of darkness and depth (I didn't add any to the sangria, though, since the wine made it already plenty dark). Chambord is pretty purply-brown, though it could be another good darkening agent, as Badgertender suggests. In other drinkable blood news, I tried Rachel's suggestion of beet-carrot juice, and it DOES look a lot like blood and has a nice viscosity to it. It's a little foamy on top, though, and a little hard to think of a cocktail to make out of it--but maybe beets with strawberries (and possibly carrot juice), as she suggested, then add vodka...hmm. Grating, blending, then straining would make for a labor-intensive cocktail, but then, who said perfection comes easy? Not me, for sure, since I already easily spent a collective eight-plus hours whipping up possibilities for this piece and still can't stop. Speaking of which: Instead of food coloring in the sangria recipe, try cherry Kool-Aid mix. You feel less weird putting a lot in, which helps get the color right, even though the reason it works is probably the, uh, food coloring in it. If you make the sangria, the most important thing is to start with the reddest wine you can find. Annoyingly, most wines come in green bottles, but there are some clear ones too. Oh, and one more thing: I went to a party this weekend with a punch called vampire's blood (though it was sherbet pink, but anyway) with dry ice in it. Dry ice is cheap and isn't as hard to find as you would think (check out www.dryicedirectory.com), and it really does take your drink to a spooky new level. Just put it in the punch bowl and not in people's glasses (yep, contact can freeze cells and cause "burns"). Have fun!

Elizabeth, back AWAY from the beverages. ;)

I love the idea of dry ice for cocktails and to add a mad scientist vibe to your party.

One point about dry ice: I read on some websites that you should look for "food-grade" dry ice if people will be drinking it.

My mother used to make nonalcoholic sangrias instead of Kool-Aide in the summer months, and we kids loved it! She used either crushed strawberries or semi-cooked beets that she then grated and added to water with enough sugar to sweeten the mix. Then depending on what was in season added slices of orange, apple, bananas, seedless grapes, and finished it off with shredded lettuce-wow! So I hope everybody tries this for a different touch.