Edging toward its 50th year in Providence, Tortilla Flats is an East Side staple for all things Mexican. But bar manager and cocktail creator, Jessie Donnelly, is known for more than just her margaritas (although she is nicknamed The Margarita Queen). Throughout the year she designs her drink menu with fresh-for-the-season ingredients, and this winter she is rolling out the Pomegranate Prosecco Sangria.
“It’s made with PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, Prosecco, and a basic white sangria mix – I want it to be accessible so people can create it on their own,” Jessie says. Although she describes herself as a renegade bartender, she was culinarily trained at Johnson & Wales. “I still make my own purees, infuse my own drinks – I bring my education into the flavors I create,” she says.
And for the last decade at Tortilla Flats, Jessie has been creating three weekly drink specials: At least one margarita and one mason jar special. “I think of the mason jar as a ‘porch sipper,’ where I venture out of the Mexican box. Maybe a cranberry applejack cider, or something with whiskey.” These are in addition to her seasonal specials. For inspiration, she uses ingredients from her own homestead farm or sees what others are doing. “We serve all of our drinks in pint-sized glasses, so when I find something I like, I think, ‘How can I create this concentration of flavors on a larger scale?’”
The winter sangria is crisp and sweet, garnished with pomegranate seeds that are bright, colorful, and delicious. “They’re so sweet this time of year,” Jessie confirms, and sprinkles on a few extra.
If you’re interested in what’s coming next, Jessie invites guests to visit her on a Thursday afternoon as she “plays around.” Weekly specials run from Friday to Sunday night, but the winter sangria will be around all season.