I've been thinking about The Sun Also Rises and, more specifically, Lady Brett Ashley a lot lately. Which, probably, haven't we all? Isn't that what we are all just thinking about all the time? Literary heroines from the 20s? Maybe not. Well, but I've been thinking about Brett lately because I've been thinking about Daisy Buchanan and about how reviled Daisy is and how it's always Hemingway who gets picked on for being a misogynist (which, fine) but how it was really Fitzgerald who created perhaps the most loathsome female characters ever. And sure, Fitzgerald doesn't have a sterling reputation as a feminist either, but he seems to get way more of a pass than Hemingway does. And it was Hemingway who gave us the amazing Brett Ashley, so how bad can Hemingway be? (Pretty bad, I guess, but that's not really the point right now). Anyway, Brett is one of my favorite female characters of all time, not because she is likable, (although I like her) but because she is honest. And while, normally, honesty is not even something that I care so much about—especially in fictional characters—because a person's ability to be honest is sometimes confused with a person's ability to be decent, and therefore tends to make the honest person self-righteous and terrible and even brutal about such slippery things like the truth, when it comes to Brett, I like it.
But so anyway. Sangria. The Sun Also Rises is set in Spain, of course, and an awful lot of wine, among other things, is consumed. And also, it's the unofficial start to summer this coming weekend, which means that it's the perfect time to start drinking cold, fruity beverages. Plus, the Times had this great article, "Refreshing New Sangrias to Chase Away Bad Memories," about the pleasures of sangria, and so I felt like we had reached (or at least, I had reached) sangria saturation point. The time had come to figure out the 5 best places for sangria in Brooklyn and plan out how to drink at them all. Not over the course of one weekend, although that's probably what Brett Ashley would do. No, over the course of this long, syrupy summer that we're about to enter. Drinking sangria at these Brooklyn spots will guarantee that the days and nights will be as pleasantly effervescent as if you were in Spain itself. Well, or close enough anyway.
La Mujer Gala
La Mujer Gala is a new arrival to Prospect Heights, but it hasn't taken long for it to attract a ton of Brooklyn devotees. Sure, most people go for the food—authentic and delicious tapas from chef Jennifer Cole-Ruiz—but I like to go for the sangria, which can be ordered with Cava for a little bubbly kick. There is no better way to while away a hot and steamy evening than with a few glasses of sangria and tortilla española with a pot of mussels.
La Mujer Gala; 665 Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Heights
For a completely different feeling that La Mujer Gala and its refined Spanish cuisine, head over to Habana Outpost during the day and indulge in one of their much lauded Cuban sandwiches and Mexican-style corn while you're knocking back their more than serviceable sangria. Fruity and not too sweet, this sangria is simple and definitely more similar to fruit punch than some of the other options on this list. But you know what? That's ok. Because sometimes, in the summer, all you want to do is sit in a brightly colored backyard and eat cheesy corn and drink fruity alcoholic drinks. There is nothing wrong with any of that.
Habana Outpost; 757 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
Although located on a well-trafficked block in Park Slope, Palo Santo feels like it's a million miles away from the bustle of New York. Sitting in the restaurant's brick-walled backyard is as enchanting as being in a secret garden. The white wine sangria at Palo Santo is the perfect summer drink in that it barely even feels like you're doing anything except hydrating yourself when, really, you are getting fully and profoundly buzzed. If you feel the need to soak up some of the alcohol with food (which, that's very smart of you), try the crispy-skinned chicken. Lady Brett probably would have gone for red meat, but you're drinking white wine here, so you should go for the chicken.
Palo Santo; 652 Union Street, Park Slope
El Almacén (which means "The General Store" in Spanish) has been in Williamsburg for some time now. Its longevity certainly hasn't diminished the glow that you get after drinking several glasses of sangria and inhale a round or two of the avocado fries. There is traditional red and white sangria, but we recommend getting a little crazy with the strawberry and elderflower version. Nothing says summer like strawberries and sangria. That sentence was brought to you by the letter "s."
El Almacén, 557 Driggs Avenue, Williamsburg
The Saint Austere
So, The Saint Austere isn't a traditional tapas bar, and the wine that I'm recommending you drink there isn't actually classic sangria. What you ought to drink at The Saint Austere is orange wine. Orange wine, which is only slowly gaining in popularity, is a kind of happy medium between drinking a more classic red or white wine and drinking fruit-laden sangria. Also known as "skin-contact wine"(!), it's made by fermenting grapes in clay pots, with the skin still on the fruit. The end result is an orange-colored, sweeter-than-usual wine that pairs beautifully with food. Especially the food at The Saint Austere. Drink it while nibbling on patatas bravas (with sriracha-spiked aïoli) and boquerones. Traditional or not, there's no denying that it's delicious. And that's all that really matters, isn't it?
The Saint Austere; 613 Grand Street, Williamsburg
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