The Caribbean's Best Sangria

"I'm gonna need a nap," I think, as a comforting warmth courses through my body and my head starts to feel heavy and list ever so slightly to the side. No, I'm not in the middle of a soothing massage. I'm fully clothed and upright – well, sorta. The cause of my midday meltdown? Blame it on the sangria.IMG_6857

Rum Punch is the quintessential Caribbean drink – and Lord knows I’ve knocked back some good ones in my time. But the sangria I'm sampling in Puerto Rico is making me seriously reconsider my punch preferences – and my schedule for the rest of the afternoon.


Luis Crespo, head bartender and mixologist at Condado, San Juan eatery Casa Lola, has just introduced me to his creation, named the Amapola sangria after a local flower. Made with a cabernet, it also incorporates local rums Bacardi White and Bacardi Limon, and a quartet of tropical juices: tamarind, pineapple, mango and orange. But what really makes this red sangria special is Luis’ genius substitution of the traditional brandy for Bacardi Dragon Berry (flavored with strawberries and dragon fruit), and the addition of cinnamon, which delivers a Caribbean-inspired kick.IMG_6858

After just one sip I'm not surprised to learn that the potent punch has won multiple mixology accolades. And after a few more sips, I'm not surprised when I start feeling a tad unsteady on my barstool (#lightweight). Still, if you’re gonna get sloshed on a single drink, it should be a good one, right? Salud!