Making a cocktail with the canned kid-pleaser SpaghettiOs “sounds like a nightmare,” says Luxbar bar manager Steve Gleich. But when Nicole Brudd of the Revel Room challenged him to do just that, Gleich got to work. His first idea was a Bloody Mary, which evolved into a Bloody Maria and then sangrita, a drink that’s typically sipped alongside tequila. Though sangrita originally consisted of just fruit juice and chile powder, today it often includes tomato juice as well, which is the route that Gleich went with it.
After experimenting with pineapple juice—which he says turned out to be “too weird”—Gleich turned to watermelon juice for both its flavor and color. He also juiced fresh tomatoes in an attempt to temper the processed flavor of the SpaghettiOs, which he mixed with tomato juice before straining out the pasta. “I don’t know the last time you had SpaghettiOs, but when you open it up there’s not a lot of sauce—it’s really thick. To strain just the sauce by itself, it’s not really possible,” he says. The juice served to water down the tomato sauce enough to strain it out as well as add flavor.
Gleich also added vinegar, sugar, and a little salt to his sangrita-inspired concoction before incorporating it into a cocktail. Instead of the traditional chile powder, he used paprika, which is listed among the ingredients in SpaghettiOs. The drink, which Gleich named Uh-Oh, involves tequila, mezcal, lime juice, simple syrup, and is served over crushed ice in a SpaghettiOs can with a pasta straw and a sprinkling of paprika for color.
Who’s next: Gleich has challenged Kiel Schelich of Maple & Ash to create a cocktail with cottage cheese.
1.5 oz Olmeca Altos reposado tequila
.5 oz Del Maguey Vida mezcal
1.5 oz watermelon-tomato sangrita*
.25 oz simple syrup
.5 oz lime juice
One piece of zitoni pasta (straw-shaped)
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a clean SpaghettiOs can filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a sprinkle of paprika and serve with a pasta straw.
*Sangrita: Juice three tomatoes and mix the juice with a can of SpaghettiOs, then fine strain. Combine two parts of the mixture with one part watermelon juice, one part white vinegar, one part sugar, a tablespoon of salt, and a pinch of paprika.