Today, we’re stirring up the ultimate Andalusian summer refresher. It’s an invigorating mixture of Tio Pepe Fino sherry and lemonade, the Rebujito!
In recent years, the twin fortified wine superpowers of Port and sherry have woken up to the valuable cocktail market. The White Port and Tonic is now a summer fixture over here, it’s even available in cans. While sherry is getting in on the act with drinks like the Croft Twist – a delicious lower ABV alternative to the G&T. Yes, it’s properly tasty.
Men in blazers
Meanwhile, Cockburn’s has released the ‘Tails of the Unexpected’ series of young Ports (above). With those striking labels and names like Ruby Soho, Tawny Eyes, and White Heights, these are aimed squarely at younger drinkers. And if they upset a few men in blazers, well, that’s all part of the plan.
Cynics might say that, of course, they would. Both sherry and Port have rallied in recent years, but neither is what you might call fashionable. Fake Booze was sharp as usual on lack of interest in the Port region. Sherry in particular has large stocks of maturing wine which is why quality is so high for such reasonable prices. Tio Pepe En Rama is regularly judged as one of the world’s finest wines and yet sells for £16 a bottle.
But this cynicism about both regions’ newfound interest in the cocktail market ignores the fact that this is just a return to how things used to be. Our ancestors were much less concerned with purity, happy to mix throw wines such as Port, sherry, Champagne, and even Sauternes into cobblers, punches, flips, and the like. There was even a craze for adding ice to claret. Though not everyone approved: pioneering wine writer George Saintsbury referred to the practice as ‘barbarous’.
The Spanish in particular have all kinds of delicious ways to adulterate their wine. The most famous being Sangria but there’s also Tinto de Verano, a mixture of red wine and lemonade, and the Rebujito, sherry, and lemonade with fresh lemon and mint. Or as the people at Tio Pepe call it, the Tiojito.
Ladies in dresses
It’s the drink of choice during the Feria del Caballo in Jerez. This is ostensibly a horse fair held in early May but it’s really a ten-day carnival where the Jerezanos dress up in their finery – Bertie Wooster on holiday look for the men, traditional Andalusian dress for the ladies – and indulges in that peculiar Spanish practice of partying all night without getting particularly drunk.
The Rebujito is the perfect drink to achieve the state. Drinking 15% ABV Fino all night would probably be too much, but the gentle refreshing Rebujito really hits the spot. Especially as the weather can be scorchio in May. A Rebujito is normally made with 7-Up or Sprite. Cloudy old-fashioned lemonade would not be right but it’s particularly good with Fanta Lemon or Kas if you can find it.
Think of the Rebujito as an alternative to Pimm’s. You can make a jug up in advance or bottle it, chill it right down and take it on picnics. Someone should really make a canned version.
Here’s how to make the Rebujito:
50cl Tio Pepe Fino
Fill a Highball glass with ice, add the ingredients, stir gently, and garnish with a spring of mint and a slice of lemon.