One wall of Mi Luna [2441 University Boulevard, (713)520-5025] is lined with booths, each partially obscured by a pointed Arabic arch. On the sound system, a fiery flamenco guitarist is pounding out a tune of passion. We sit at the copper bar and sip sangria while looking over the tapas menu. Tapas means "lids" in Spanish; the term originally described a piece of bread that was placed on top of a drink to keep the flies out. Eventually the breads were decorated with tidbits and became Madrid's equivalent of a happy-hour buffet. We order one piece of toast with grilled beef and another with smoked salmon. Luckily there aren't any flies around.
Mi Luna's sangria: Sangria means "bleeding" in Spanish, a name derived from the blood-red color of this wine-based cocktail. At Mi Luna, the red wine is mixed with brandy and fruit juices and served with a piece of lemon over ice. Other versions feature orange slices and sometimes soda water. Sangria is generally made by the pitcher.
1 bottle light red wine, such as Beaujolais Nouveau
5 shots El Presidente Mexican brandy
1/2 cup simple syrup
1 orange, washed and cut into slices
1 lemon, washed and cut into slices
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Maraschino cherries and
orange slices for garnish
Combine all ingredients except the garnishes in a glass pitcher and mix well. Pour over ice and garnish with additional orange slices and maraschino cherries. Serves six.