Sangaree vs. Sangris, Sangria, and American Sangarees
by Andrew “the Alchemist”
The original Sangaree (or Sangre or Sangoree) was a punch documented in London as far back as 1736. Its normal composition was Madeira wine with lime juice, sugar, water and nutmeg. It’s possible that its originator, Mr. Gordon (who had a punch shop in the Strand in London), sold it as being healthy for the blood. Madeira wine is a fortified wine from the Portuguese island of Madeira. Mr. Gordon called his punch ‘Sangre’ from the Portuguese for ‘blood.’ ‘Sangaree’ is probably a flourish on a poorly-pronounced Anglicization of ‘sangre.’
Sangaree became very popular in the hot climes of the British Caribbean, and it most-likely spread from there to the French-speaking Caribbean as ‘Sangris.’ In the 1800’s, a writer in France postulated that the drink had a French origin since it seemed obvious to him that ‘Sangris’ came from ‘sang gris,’ which means ‘gray blood’ in French.
From either the French-speaking or English-speaking Caribbean, the drink spread to the Spanish-speaking world and became known there as ‘Sangria,’ where it is based on Spanish wine. By the 1900’s, Sangria was assumed to have a Spanish origin in much the same type of thinking that previously had it thought to be originally French.
In the U.S.A., Sangaree lost its sour element and dropped from punch to sling (the most uniquely American type of mixed drink). American Sangarees did retain the use of fortified wines, and by the 1800’s any sling containing fortified wine would be called a ‘Sangaree’ in the U.S.A.