There is a bar in the heart of Seville, in Spain’s Andalusian province, called “El Tamboril,” nestled within the historic old Barrio Santa Cruz. I happened upon it on my first night in Spain in 1999. I had been studying flamenco and Spanish dance here in Alexandria with a teacher from Madrid. So when my job suddenly required me to visit Seville, I was thrilled. Jazzed with jet lag, I wandered into the barrio and was drawn by the sound of guitars emanating through from and eaves-covered doorway. El Tamboril is about two things: a folk dance called “Sevillanas,” and Sangria.
As an American, the fact that I knew how to dance Sevillanas opened doors for me with the locals. After a time, the head guitarist motioned for me to dance with a handsome young regular. The whole room paid curious attention as this American woman got up to perform this ages-old dance.
The locals in attendance, and some other tourists, clapped rhythmically while we danced, as is the custom, and flattered us with applause and cries of “Ole” afterwards. Several Spaniards complimented me graciously, and said that I knew a very classical version of Sevillanastruly a tribute to my classically-trained teacher. Here I was, after studying Spanish language and dance for a few years, enthralled in the culture’s ambience. It is a cherished memory. At the stroke of midnight, the lights went down, and the sound of recorded church bells rang out. Everyone gathered around a shrine replicating the famous image of the Virgin Mary called “El Rocio.” Two young guitarists stood before the spotlighted shrine, with a hush all around. Then, from the pious darkness, with the night breezes wafting in, they sang a mystical, haunting Salve Maria. When they were finished, we all crossed ourselves to receive her blessing and everyone went back to dancing, chatting, and imbibing. This is the spirit of Spain, where sangria was born.
The sangria at El Tamboril is the best I have ever tasted. I am trying to use some Spanish connections to bring this recipe to my readers. The one listed here is an inexact replica that I have concocted in my kitchen. As to what wine to use, it need not be expensive. There is a place in the world for almost every wine, and it need not be highbrow to be perfectly delightful in the right circumstances. I hope you enjoy it. Besides, now Sangria will be legal in Virginia. Ole!
One bottle of light bodied red (Rioja, Merlot)
1 shot of lime juice
2-3 shots of Rum
About a quarter cup of whole cloves
Diced apple and orange for garnish
For extra sweetness, one can add fruit juice or orange licquer
Let the mixture “marinate” overnight in the refrigerator, and serve over ice.
Alter the amounts of the various ingredients to suit your taste.