What a load of Cobblers

January 9th, 2008

The Cobbler is an old form of mixed drink that consists of a base spirit (originally some form of wine), sugar and fresh fruit. It dates from at least the 1830s, and made use of two items very new to people of that time – ice, and straws. It amazing to think that items such as these that are so ubiquitous today were once curious new oddities, but for many people the Cobbler was their introduction to them.

The original Cobbler is the Sherry Cobbler which, according to David Wondrich in Imbibe!, was one of the most popular libations during the last half of the nineteenth century. By all accounts it seems America, and indeed the rest of the world, were wild about them so it seemed like a good place to start…

Sherry Cobbler cocktail

Sherry Cobbler

View in: oz | ml | shots

Sherry is a fortified wine made around the area of Cádiz in Spain. For me, Sherry has always been a sickly sweet, red coloured liquor that was only ever drank by my grandmother. However, Paul Clarke’s excellent article on the wine in the Nov/Dec issue of Imbibe magazine caused me to rethink this as I learnt of the drier Fino and Manzanilla Sherries which sounded a lot more appealing than those I were familiar with.

The Sherry Cobbler is light and fruity, with a very interesting character to it. Sherry predictably is the dominant flavour, but the orange brightens up the drink and thanks to it being shaken provides a lovely zesty taste in the background. The Fino Sherry I used tastes totally different to the Sherry I remember trying as a child – light in colour, and crisp and floral to taste, I found it very enjoyable both alone and in this Cobbler.

Thanks to its low alcoholic content, the Sherry Cobbler is perfect when you want an alcoholic drink but don’t want to get tipsy. Unlike a lot of lower-alcohol drinks that I find taste rather boring compared to their higher-proof cousins, the Sherry Cobbler has a really intriguing flavour and is definitely a drink I will be having more often. Further experimentation with Sherry is also in order, and soon too – like vermouth, only worse, Sherry quickly wanes once opened and should be kept refrigerated to keep it as fresh as possible.

Whiskey Cobbler cocktail

Whiskey Cobbler

View in: oz | ml | shots

The popularity of the Sherry Cobbler meant that soon people were creating Cobblers with various other wines, including Hock, Bordeaux and even Champagne. At some point the Cobbler leapt the confines of wine and started to be made with stronger spirits like brandy, gin, and as with the drink we look at now, whiskey. Despite using a much stronger alcohol, Jerry Thomas’ recipe for the Whiskey Cobbler remains very similar to the original so I was interested to see whether such a large amount of Bourbon didn’t just overwhelm the other ingredients.

After the relative lightness of the Sherry Cobbler, the Whiskey Cobbler packs something of a punch. There’s no hiding the amount of Bourbon sitting in the glass, but despite this the drink remains remarkably drinkable. Behind the strong base you get hints of orange and maraschino, and a sweetness that nicely mellows the whiskey. Ultimately, I think the similar Old Fashioned is the better drink, but the Whiskey Cobbler is nonetheless a tasty concoction.

Whiskey Cobbler cocktail

Whiskey Cobbler (Jamie’s recipe)

View in: oz | ml | shots

Jamie Boudreau’s variation on the Whiskey Cobbler cuts the amount of Bourbon, adds bitters and includes some fruit during the shaking of the drink. As a result the Bourbon, whilst still prominent, is a little lighter than in the original. The berries and bitters provide nice fruity background that works really nicely with the whiskey, and the addition of soda water further lightens the drink.

Trying this after the original meant it tasted rather mellow in comparison, but it remains an interesting drink. I’m sure if my taste buds hadn’t been previously blasted by the original Whiskey Cobbler it would have tasted even better, though being the lush I am I think the next time I try this I may skip over the soda water.

As you may have noticed, this post marks the start of a change in the way recipes are listed on Oh Gosh!. I originally chose the “shots” measurement as it can be applied to whatever method of measurement you prefer, but over time I’ve realised that it can make life difficult for people trying to convert the recipes, and also gets confusing where I list more defined amounts like a bar-spoon or a dash.

In an effort to improve this, you now have the choice of viewing the recipes in fluid ounces, millilitres or shots. By default recipes will be shown in ounces (as most of my visitors come from the US) and thanks to the magic of the internet the site will remember your preference should you chose a different measurement (assuming you don’t delete your cookies). I will slowly be going back and revising old posts to use this feature, but if you have any trouble getting it to work on this one do let me know – I’ve tried it in most browsers but no doubt it won’t work for someone!

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Posted in Blackberry, Bourbon, Maraschino, Orange, Peach Bitters, Raspberry, Sherry

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8 responses to “What a load of Cobblers”

  1. Marleigh Marleigh says:

    Love the new feature, Jay! I’ve been eyeing that Sherry Cobbler for a few days (reading Imbibe! does that to people, I guess), but now I’m thinking Jamie’s Whiskey Cobbler sounds even better…

  2. Dominik MJ – the opinionated alchemist Dominik MJ - the opinionated alchemist says:

    Jay – the feature with the conversion is just fantastic! I am just stunned of the idea! Though it should be more visible (if you didn’t commented the topic about different measures, I wouldn’t have found the feature).

    And the whole thing about cobblers? Very good! I just searched a recipe for sherry and here I found it!

    What kind of ice would you use (ok – there is a quite contemporary cobbler ice – but historical I don’t think they had this kind of ice) – cracked ice – or ice cubes – or even crushed ice?

    Actually I like the original cobblers more (for the concept) as Jamie’s variation, because they are closer to the basic idea…


    Dominik MJ

  3. Dominik MJ – the opinionated alchemist Dominik MJ - the opinionated alchemist says:

    Jay, I tried the recipes and I have to say, they are delicious! Especially the Sherry Cobbler (I used a Lustau Amontillado) is amazing.

    The only thing is, that 120ml base spirit is too much for the glass (like shown).

    The conversion to shots is working in this case not very well, as one barspoon (which is 0.5cl or 5ml) stays one barspoon (so the proportions are changing).

  4. Jay Jay says:

    Marleigh – Jamie’s recipe is very tasty, but be sure to try the Sherry Cobbler too, it’s a very interesting drink.

    Dominik – Glad you like the feature, it was your post that inspired me to come up with a better way of showing recipies.

    You’re right about the barspoon – it should perhaps be listed as 1/6 shot for the shots measurement. I agree about placement too, but I want to iron out any bugs before making it a prominent feature.

    The Sherry Cobbler is great isn’t it! I was really surprised how good it was given my previous, admittedly limited, experience. Just thinking about it makes me want to make another – and it’s only 11am!

    Oh, and with regards to ice I used cracked ice, and then of course used that ice in the glass as well.

  5. spike spike says:

    Hi guys, about cobblers Riccardo a mixologist from Connaught Bar recently won the Galvin cup making a great cobbler also using a proper “cobbles” of ice from a big block of ice ( as david wondrich also said in his book)
    Black Raspberry Belvedere Vodka
    Gancia Bianco Italian Vermought
    Fresh Lemon
    Basil Leaves
    Spice Caster Sugar
    Gurnish with Berrys and Basil
    Congratulation Ricardo
    Very Very Good

  6. spike spike says:

    What you guys thing about his recipe??

  7. drink me » Cobble-Cobble! says:

    [...] original Cobbler is the Sherry Cobbler which, according to David Wondrich in Imbibe!, was one of the most popular libations during the [...]

  8. MixMarch #13: The Sherry Cobbler « Everyday Drinking says:

    [...] While this recipe belongs Jerry Thomas, the photo and my attention owes a deep debt to Oh Gosh! [...]

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