Vino de Jerez

February 3rd, 2008

Last months look at Cobbler cocktails really opened my eyes to Sherry, a spirit I had previously disregarded as a sweet alcohol only drank by old women. As it turns out there are many variations available, and some of them have a lot to offer, both on their own and when mixed in cocktails.

Sherry is a fortified wine made around the area of Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. Its production, and the various styles made, is a complicated subject and beyond the scope of this post but if you are interested you can read more here. Today I’m looking at cocktails that use Fino Sherry, the driest form of Sherry.

Bamboo cocktail

Bamboo

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The Bamboo was created by Louise Eppinger, a German bartender who worked at the Grand Hotel in Yokohama during the 1890s and 1900s. It is a light, dry and crisp cocktail, with a beautiful pinky orange hue. It has a wonderful floral flavour, with the Sherry and vermouth complementing each other very nicely. The orange bitters add further citrus interest in the after-taste and the overall taste is really quite delightful.

Adonis cocktail

Adonis

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The Adonis, named after the first Broadway musical to run for more than 500 performances, takes the Bamboo and replaces dry vermouth with sweet vermouth. It appears in both the Savoy Cocktail Book and the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, but while the Waldorf recipe maintains the Bamboo’s equal parts of Sherry and vermouth, the Savoy recipe switches to a 2:1 ratio of Sherry to vermouth.

I tried both, and found the sweet vermouth overwhelmed the Sherry in the Astoria recipe – the Savoy recipe is definitely the better cocktail. The vermouth adds a subtle aromatic base to the dry floral notes of the Sherry, with a lovely orange zest background throughout the drink from the bitters and orange twist. While it lacks the subtlety of the Bamboo, the Adonis is an equally interesting drink that has plenty to offer.

Nome cocktail

Nome

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The Nome cocktail is very similar to the Alaska cocktail, which first appears in the Savoy Cocktail Book sans-Sherry but is also featured in David Embury’s Fine Art of Mixing Drinks with the recommendation of adding dry Sherry. Interestingly, Nome is a city in Alaska which makes me think the cocktails are linked by more than mere coincidence – which came first though, is another question. The Alaska features a heavier dose of gin, but as we’re looking at Sherry tonight I went for the Nome recipe.

Chartreuse leads the Nome, with a herbal sweetness which gradually relents to the dry floral tones of the Sherry. The gin provides a surprisingly subtle backbone which like the Sherry reveals more of itself as the drink lingers. I’m left wondering if the Alaska, with it’s heavier dose of gin, might present a more balanced mixture that would prevent the Chartreuse from being quite so dominant. Further investigation and a comparison is required, but regardless the Nome is an interesting cocktail worth trying.

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Posted in Aromatic Bitters, Orange Bitters, Recipes, Sherry, Vermouth

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3 responses to “Vino de Jerez”

  1. Ryan Ryan says:

    Some of these look fun! I’ll have to make sure to try one or two…Thanks for the recipes

  2. Jay Jay says:

    Let us know how you get on Ryan. As someone who is obviously very familiar with Sherry on its own, I would be interested to learn what you make of cocktails that use it…

  3. Jason Jason says:

    I’m working on a list of low-alcohol cocktails for one of the bars I manage, and I’m really interested in gauging the appeal of sherry cocktails to our guests. I also carry a PX sherry that has significant residual sugar, and I’m planning to experiment with it as a sub for both aperitif wine and simple syrup. Thanks for these starting spots with Finos.

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