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…
- 4 shots / 120 ml / 4 oz dry Sherry
- 3 slices orange
- 2 bar-spoons sugar
- Shake all ingredients hard with ice and pour, unstrained, in to a tall glass. Garnish with fresh berries then add a straw.
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.
- 4 shots / 120 ml / 4 oz Bourbon
- 1 bar-spoon maraschino
- 1 bar-spoon sugar
- 1 slice orange
- Shake all ingredients hard with ice and pour, unstrained, in to a glass. Garnish with fresh raspberries and blackberries then add a straw.
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 (Jamie’s recipe)
- 2 shots / 60 ml / 2 oz Bourbon
- ¼ shot / 10 ml / ¼ oz sugar syrup
- 5 fresh blackberries
- 2 dashes peach bitters
- Shake all ingredients hard with ice and strain in to a tall ice-filled glass. Top off with soda water and garnish with fresh raspberries and blackberries.
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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