IMGP0405Gothamist, like half of New York, left town last week. But perhaps unlike the other four million people in the exodus we stressed over making our own drinks. Sangria, the wine-based drink where we like to get our fruit portion of the food pyramid, can be made several ways. The most common variation is a red wine sangria and our favorite is from Cafe Noir. The drink, like the restaurant and bar with open windows making most of the tables feel outdoors without the grime of the sidewalk, is sexy and kind of dark, a little surprising. The citrus taste without too much sweetness makes it taste adult (the darker red they use, a pinot noir, we think, also helps) and the half and full carafes, paired with tapas, are great for a date. The most frequent complaint about this Soho mainstay is the crowd, which admittedly isn't perfect, with too many cufflinks to count taking out workday issues on the the bartenders. Honorable mentions go to Xunta, an afforable East Village tapas bar with a great happy hour that include 2-for-1 sangria that's not quite as strong, but just as drinkable, especially during the weather advisory days of summer and the year-round version at Barrumundi.

Because Gothamist couldn't pry the recipe from Cafe Noir we went to one of our favorite wine stores, Vintage New York, tried their version at the back tasting room (the sangria is also being served with small plates at their very new adjoining Winebar) and nabbed the recipe for those of you who want to try this at home.

1 bottle Riverdale sangria (at 1.5 L, it's a magnum or double bottle)
6 oz brandy
2 oranges, sliced
3 limes, sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, chopped
1 mango, chopped
2 nectarines, choppeed

Cut fruit and add to pitcher. Pour brandy over fruit, soak 15 minutes. Pour sangria over fruit and brandy. Let sit at least 1 hour in the fridge. Serve straight up, over ice or with seltzer.

Also, freely substitute what looks best in stores, like pears for apples as both pick up the brandy taste well. Enjoy.

Cafe Noir
32 Grand Street, at Thompson Street
(212) 431-7910

174 1st Avenue, between 10th and 11th Streets
(212) 614-0620

67 Clinton Street, between Stanton and Rivington Streets
(212) 529-6900

Vintage New York
482 Broome Street, at Wooster Street
(212) 226-9463
(open til 9pm daily)
Winebar is adjacent, with an entrance on Wooster Street

Vintage New York
2492 Broadway at 93rd Street
(212) 721-9999
(open til 10pm daily)

Special thanks to Nichelle of Nichelle Newsletter.