Sangrita – What Makes Tequila Completo!

@TechSavvyTeen's photo surrealistic view of the Grand Velas pool

Since last August when we returned from our decadent and surreal vacation at The Grand Velas Resort in Playa del Carmen Yucatan Peninsula Mexico, I’ve been plotting to write a post about sangrita. Cinco de Mayo seemed like the perfect excuse. Yes, I meant to type SangriTa. A discovery we made in the pool bar one lovely afternoon…

pool bar at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Our favorite pool bar under the thatch roof hut

Pool bartender extraordinaire, José, was generously pouring our afternoon tequila shots, when he asked: Would you like some sangrita? I heard the question as: Would you like some sangria, which for me, compared to shots of tequila, well, there is no comparison so I quickly said thanks, but no thanks. He stood firm. You really should try this sangrita if you like the tequila. It’s how we drink our tequila in the Yucatan – it’s called Completo. Ok – well José had not steered us wrong on the tequila so far so this was an easy leap of faith, especially after the first shot.

Sangrita - a perfect complement to TequilaTurns out sangrita is kind of like the bloody part of bloody mary. In fact, sangrita means “little blood”. Drinking tequila this way is akin to a deconstructed bloody mary with tequila in place of the vodka. In the Yucatan, where we were, the sangrita is made with tomatoes in some form, lime juice, orange juice, and some type of spicy pepper. In other regions, the sangrita is made with grenadine and orange juice with a dash of lime and spices – the grenadine making it red. Can’t say I’ve tried it that way but it doesn’t sound nearly as appealing as the tomato-based version José served.

Sangrita and Tequla = CompletoTo enjoy, you need two shot glasses, one filled with sangrita, one with tequila. You take a sip of sangrita, then a sip of tequila. It’s a little slice of tequila heaven – refreshing like a great bloody mary at brunch. Hmmm…tequila at Mother’s Day brunch. I like that idea.

Many versions of tomatoes can be your base: tomato juice, bloody mary mix, canned tomatoes pureed, fresh tomatoes or a even a good fresh salsa. Then add fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, and your choice of fresh peppers or dash of tobasco-like hot sauce(s). I tried a couple of different versions with @DormantChef as the tester. His favorite version was this:Sangrita with bloody mary mix base

Sangrita, not to be confused with Sangria, is like a bloody mary deconstructed and made with tequila. This one is tomato-based, other versions are said to be made with the leftover fruit juice from a fruit salad.
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Makes about 1 3/4 cups. Can be doubled.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 57 kcal


  • 1 cup bloody mary mix any brand you prefer
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice store-bought could work
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 serrano pepper rough chopped (I left the seeds in)
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 2-3 splashes Worcestershire sauce to taste


  1. Add first 4 ingredients to blender and liquefy for a few seconds. Taste and then add ground pepper and worcestershire to taste.

I made another version with organic tomato juice as a base instead of bloody mary mix, clementine juice instead of orange juice, some cucumber and medium hot habanero lime salsa. @DormantChef didn’t prefer it — it had an almost gazpacho quality which is not his favorite. Very fresh tasting and I still enjoyed it with the tequila. Just depends on your personal preference.

The idea is to provide a complement, a balance to the tequila. The best recipe is the one that your palate enjoys with the tequila you are serving.

We enjoyed so many aspects of our trip to The Grand Velas in the Yucatan Peninsula but this unexpected drink discovery at the pool bar was one of our most memorable highlights of the vacation. Thanks José!

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7 Responses to Sangrita – What Makes Tequila Completo!

  1. Rod April 27, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

    The original recipe for Sangrita did not contain tomato juice. It was only fruit juices that had dripped from the fruit salad and ground red chiles. To this day, that’s the one I prefer. I’m not sure how or when tomato flavoring crept in there, but I don’t care for it. To each his own. 🙂

    • Beth Lee May 5, 2015 at 8:08 am #

      Hi Rod – thanks for sharing that bit of history on how sangrita originated. Looking forward to learning more and trying variations.

  2. shawn May 22, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    Used to call these “vampiritos” up in the Juarez area. Definitely a great hot weather refresher.

  3. citymouse May 11, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    I bought a bottle of sangrita a couple of years ago when I was hosting some sort of Mexican dinner but never used it. It’s still sitting on my shelf, mainly because I wasn’t really sure how to serve it. That bottle is probably way past it’s prime and needs to go but I think I will definitely give your recipe a whirl. I love Bloodies and this looks like a fun way to drink tequila.

    Stopping by from SITS.

  4. rsmacaalay May 9, 2011 at 1:23 am #

    Wow that looks like a perfect drink for a very hot day

  5. Karen from Globetrotter Diaries May 5, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    It’s so hot in LA right now that this is perfect! I LOVED the Yucatan– incredible food, and even better drinks 🙂


  1. Grand Velas Riviera Maya » Celebrating Mexico style! - February 1, 2012

    […] Sangrita – What Makes Tequila Completo! […]

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