Drink of the Week: Sangria Blanca at Habana

On the bar at Habana, the Costa Mesa Lab's best Cuban restaurant (ok, The Lab's only Cuban restaurant), there's a row of tall, thin glasses. In each one: some mint leaves, some limes and some liquid — I presume sugar water — at the bottom. The place is a mojito factory.

But if you venture beyond the mojitos, Habana has a pretty sturdy drink menu. While Cuban food can trend heavy, the cocktails seem designed only to refresh. At least, that's the case with Habana's white sangria. The joint has two big jugs of sangria — white and red — which they ladle for you into a glass goblet. The acrid taste you sometimes get with the red stuff isn't present in the blanca. Instead, it's smooth sipping, sweet but not subdued, tinged with peach and apple.

Habana makes theirs with white wine, passion fruit rum, apple liquor and fresh fruit marinated over night — all floated with champaign. I hadn't had anything quite like it, so I asked whether white sangria was a Habana invention. Yeah, said the bartender. They started serving it a little over a year ago. A Google search reveals, though, that Sangria Blanca isn't quite a Habana original… but still! The place certainly does it well.

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