This week we’re going way back, we’re talking old school, with a drink that makes an Old Fashioned look positively modern: it’s the Sherry Cobbler! Earlier this month, Nate Brown…
This week we’re going way back, we’re talking old school, with a drink that makes an Old Fashioned look positively modern: it’s the Sherry Cobbler!
Earlier this month, Nate Brown told us that sherry was a bartender’s secret weapon, adding complexity and seasoning to cocktails. But what about if you use sherry as the main ingredient? Before the word cocktail was even invented, people on both sides of the Atlantic were making mixed drinks out of fortified wine.
Such drinks would have been familiar to Shakespeare. Falstaff calls for a sort of sherry cocktail in The Merry Wives of Windsor: “Go fetch me a quart of sack (sherry); put a toast in’t.” The Elizabethans would have drunk much of their sherry laced with sugar, spices and, er, toast. It was a good way of disguising the poor quality of the wine. They would also have served these drinks hot to create a sort of mulled sherry.
What the Americans brought to the party was ice. The Cobbler unites a traditional English way of serving sherry with the American love of cold drinks. It’s just sherry with sugar and served with crushed ice and fruit. Long before freezers were invented, Americans would harvest huge blocks of ice in the winter months from the Great Lakes and keep it in special insulated chests so they could have cold drinks throughout the winter. An article in 1838 from a New York newspaper said that an ice box “is now considered as much an article of necessity as a carpet or dining table.”
Charles Dickens picked up the taste for chilled drinks on his American reading tours. He liked the Sherry Cobbler so much that in his novel Martin Chuzzlewit, the eponymous hero refers to it as a “wonderful invention.” Dickens didn’t just limit himself to Cobblers. Apparently, on the gruelling 1867 tour of America, he took most of his nutrition from sherry flips: made with a mixture of sherry, eggs, sugar and nutmeg.
Sherry cobbler, don’t forget the garnish
While the Flip requires a bit of skill, the Cobbler could not be simpler. If you don’t have an ice crusher, just bash some ice cubes in a bag with a rolling pin. I would recommend using a reasonable quality amontillado sherry, you want that nutty taste to come through, though don’t use anything too pricey. The González Byass Viña AB Amontillado Seco fits the bill perfectly. You could also use an oloroso, or a sweetened sherry like Harvey’s Bristol Cream in which case cut back on the sugar. But you don’t have to limit yourself to sherry: there are all kinds of other cobbles: Champagne, Port, claret and even Sauternes. Finally don’t stint on the garnish: orange and lemon slices are essential, as is mint, but you could also sling in a strawberry or maraschino cherry. Think of the Cobbler as a distant ancestor of Pimm’s. It’s the perfect drink for a hot lazy summer’s day.
In a highball glass (or you can use a Hurricane, Sling or Old Fashioned glass), add the sherry and the sugar syrup. Stir and taste, you might want to add more sweetness. Fill up with crushed ice, add a dash of bitters and stir. Garnish with a lemon and an orange slice, and a sprig of mint.
Sherry shouldn’t be sitting at the back of the cupboard gathering dust. From sweet PX to bone dry fino, sherry’s incredible variety makes it a great friend when mixing drinks,…
Sherry shouldn’t be sitting at the back of the cupboard gathering dust. From sweet PX to bone dry fino, sherry’s incredible variety makes it a great friend when mixing drinks, says bartender Nate Brown. And don’t turn your nose up at Harvey’s Bristol Cream.
I think it fair to say that Mummy Brown had a few of-the-moment tastes: she dressed me in red corduroys and a knitted green jumper, (which when matched with my hair made me look like a 3ft broken traffic light). She married my Dad when he had a mullet. She made a mean pasta salad: tinned sweetcorn, salad cream and all. Her favourite dessert was pavlova. And, most worryingly of all, her Sunday afternoon staple was a glass of Harvey’s Bristol Cream.
She made me pour it for her every week as she cooked the customary roast dinner. Naturally, it wasn’t long before I indulged in a sneaky taste. It was somehow both syrupy and sharp, bitter and sweet. It burned my throat despite it’s modest ABV. I hated it and could not for the life of me understand why she chose to drink it. Although, as this habit was partaken shortly after enduring a Church sermon, I assumed it was some sort of penance. The road to perdition it seemed, was drenched in Harvey’s Bristol Cream.
Nate Brown, pouring vermouth, thinking about sherry
Fast forward two decades and what was my attitude then seems to be the general consumer attitude now. Mention the word ‘sherry’ to guests in a bar and you’ll likely garner little more than a smirk and a comment about diabetes. Even the Spanish shun it.
How embarrassingly wrong we all are. Fools, the lot of us.
Is there a booze product out there with a worse, less deserved reputation? Not on your nelly. Even the worst regarded consumables have a serve that lifts them from the depths of disgrace. Tequila? Sure, mass market brands are pretty much widely regarded as nasty. But even cheap Tequila has the Margarita escape act. Absinthe? Still has the association with the Bohemians and mad artists. Sherry’s equivalent doesn’t extend further than lobbing it in a trifle. Ouch.
And yet, I’d argue there isn’t a category on the market better suited to current trends and tastes. Its low ABV backbone, crisp, unapologetic flavours, the variety of styles and expressions (Lustau alone has over 40), and the smaller, friendlier bottle sizes. Sherry is the complete package. You can keep your bitters, this is my bartender’s ketchup.
Take the rising low-ABV zeitgeist. Two years ago if you asked for a Bamboo cocktail you’d have the bartender sneaking off to google it. Today, it’s a staple on the menu of the pioneering Mint Gun Club and ordering one across town has become something of a bartender’s handshake. Simply mix one part dry vermouth with one part dry sherry. Serve stirred down, or over ice. Add orange bitters if you really must, but none in mine thanks. The base provided by the sherry gives license for the aromatics of the vermouth to sing. Prebottle the serve if you like and take it to the park. Just remember, the fresher the better.
Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana, makers of fine manzanilla
Remember Pedrino, those fino and tonic RTDs (ready to drinks)? Ahead of their time. Fresh fino and decent tonic is as good as any G&T I’ve ever had. But a word of advice: if the dry sherry in the bar fridge (or worse bar shelf) has been sat there for longer than a month and no longer excites the sides of your tongue, throw it away (or in a trifle?). It’s not expensive, anyway.
Not in the mood for a refreshing serve? Take a trip over to the other end of the dry sherry spectrum. Guests are moving further and further away from the dreaded sugary profiles whilst still loving the darker end of drinking. We are seeing low sugar versions of everything, none of which quite fills the void the sweetness has left behind in our cocktails. In steps oloroso with its ‘hold my beer’ attitude. The oxidative ageing has allowed sweet notes to perpetuate without any of the sugar remaining. Look at the descriptors used: walnut, caramel, cocoa nibs, rich orange, this is the equivalent of fat free chocolate cake that actually tastes delicious. How is this not a game changer?
Add a splash of oloroso to your stirred down and brown recipes. 15ml will give your Rum Old Fashioneds dryness and depth. 5ml in a Manhattan will clean up the otherwise cloying finish. Heck, even bung it in a Highball for savoury accents.
As for PX, the raisiny plump and jolly cousin? It isn’t just for Christmas. Some of these can be over 40% residual sugar, making it pretty much a sugar syrup when used correctly (read sparingly). Stick it in a dash bottle and add a few drops to make a richer Whisky Mac, or Rob Roy. In fact put it in nearly everything richer, I don’t care, just don’t be embarrassed to love it.
I said sherry, not cherry! A drop of oloroso will take your Manhattan to the next level
But best of all is the Martini. Taken more as a style than a recipe, the oh-so-cool King of Cocktails can be opened up to an endless catalogue of variations. Which is appropriate given that gin is no longer a singular profile. Forget the wet or dry, olive or zest approach. Instead, try three parts dry gin to one part fino or manzanilla sherry. Keep the gin classic and green, like Plymouth. Try it before you garnish it. You’ll probably end up going without the fruit. The saline, umami sherry will cleanse your Martini adding more structure and bite than even a fresh vermouth ever could. This is how Martinis are meant to be.
And as for Harvey’s Bristol Cream? That lonely, dusty, ocean blue bottle in the back of the drinks cabinet? It is essentially a blend of all the types of sherry that a bodega produces. Think of it less of slop bucket and more of a team effort. Serve it over ice with an orange slice. Honestly, just try it. It’s bloody delicious. It’s still simultaneously bitter and sweet, syrupy and sharp. Only now it’s everything I could ask for. You’ll thank me for this.
This isn’t so much a revolution as a renaissance. Looks like, as with everything, Mummy Brown was right all along.
Nate Brown has owned and operated spirit specialist cocktail bars in London for the better part of a decade. He’s a regular speaker on industry panels, a judge for various spirit awards and has been known to harbour an opinion or two.
The Eurovision Song Contest kicks off next week, with the final on Saturday 18 May, so we’ve selected some super European tipples for your enjoyment. Eurovision is pretty much the…
The Eurovision Song Contest kicks off next week, with the final on Saturday 18 May, so we’ve selected some super European tipples for your enjoyment.
Eurovision is pretty much the best thing in the world. Other people might insist on watching shows with dragons, superheroes or Keeley Hawes, but honestly how could that compare to a night of cheesy, camp fun with an endless array of bangers, ballads and the downright bizarre. From dancing Russian grandmas, Viking corpse costumes, drag queens and Jedward, TWICE somehow, Eurovision really has got everything.
To honour this year’s edition of the world’s biggest music entertainment show, we’ve rounded up some incredible booze from some of the competing countries so you can indulge yourself on an evening of unrivalled entertainment.
From French fancies to exciting English expressions, a couple of stunners from Spain and Switzerland and more, we’ve got some major treats for you. I’d tell you to enjoy, but it’s Eurovision. Of course you’re going to enjoy yourself.
The United Kingdom’s hopes this year rest on the shoulders of Michael Rice, a native from Hartlepool, County Durham, England, so it’s fitting that you’d cheer him on with a delicious and wonderfully Northern gin! Distilled by the Moorland Spirit Company using a rather intricate production method, which includes pot stills, vacuum distillation and a super-critical CO2 extraction process, Hepple Gin is full-bodied, balanced and simply begging to be put to good use in a G&T.
What does it taste like?:
Lemon peels, peppery juniper, coriander, pine and sherbet lemon sweeties.
From this year’s host city of Tel Aviv comes a young single malt spirit which isn’t quite old enough to be called whisky yet from Milk & Honey Distillery. This tipple was matured in ex-red wine, bourbon and ex-Islay whisky casks and boasts a tasty and complex flavour profile.
What does it taste like?:
Floral sweetness followed by smoky peat and maritime notes, orange peel, dried fruit and honeydew melon, with woody notes appearing on the finish.
For those who enjoy all things French, why not combine the joy of Bilal Hassani’s song ‘Roi’ with this classic VSOP Cognac from Maxime Trijol? The family (the Trijols, not the Hassanis) has been distilling quality Cognac since 1859 and are now one of the largest and most consistent distillers in the region, so you know you won’t be going wrong with this beauty.
What’s this? Rye whiskey from Germany?! That’s right. Eurovision is well known for springing a surprise or two, so we thought we’d follow suit and champion this straight rye whiskey from the wonderful Stork Club. Produced just south of Berlin using German rye, this tipple is a worthy celebration of the country whose hopes are pinned on S!sters this year. I wonder if anyone has let them know they’ve spelt that wrong. Someone really should.
What does it taste like?:
Brown bread with Nutella, cane sugar, punchy black pepper, nutmeg, clove, red apples and blackberries.
Perhaps some of you will be enjoying Italian gin witnessing an Italian win on Saturday 18 May? Even if Italy doesn’t bring home the big prize, you can be sure that you’ll be singing this ace gin’s praises, which was built around the delicious Sicilian pink grapefruit and a hint of rhubarb too.
What does it taste like?:
Tangy pink grapefruit at the fore, balanced well by peppery juniper and a touch of thyme.
While Miki is on a mission to wow Europe’s heart with his entry ‘La Venda’, this Spanish brand on a mission to make sherry accessible again. XECO Fino, which was aged for a minimum of four years in American oak, is a crisp and refreshingly dry fino that makes for a great introduction to fortified wine, so it’s fair to say XECO has succeeded in its goal. It’s really tasty served straight up or over ice with tonic or lemonade.
What does it taste like?:
Dainty and floral on the nose, building to the refreshing umami-esque palate. Thirst-quenching stuff, and ideal for aperitifs.
Säntis 10 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)
The Swiss really do make some delicious single malt, and if you weren’t aware of that than you should immediately familiarise yourself with the wonderful whisky distilled by Säntis. The Swiss brand produced this rich and complex 10-year-old expression which was independently bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Which was a very smart thing to do. This is a very, very tasty whisky.
What does it taste like?:
Toasted brown sugar, sticky treacle, Bramley apple, dried fruit, cacao, macaroons, drying barley, winter spice and brandy snaps.
While Duncan Laurence represents The Netherlands with his song ‘Arcade’, you could show your appreciation for The Netherlands by enjoying some of its delicious beer, namely this excellent Trappist Blond ale from the Dutch La Trappe selection.
What does it taste like?:
Crisp and refreshing, with sliced banana, clove-studded orange and creamy honey. Big yeast influence on this one, too. Hop bitterness stays way in the background, but it certainly is there.
After one of the few weeks this time of year that doesn’t have a Bank Holiday (booo), we welcome May with news that Coca Cola is mixing it up, cocktail…
After one of the few weeks this time of year that doesn’t have a Bank Holiday (booo), we welcome May with news that Coca Cola is mixing it up, cocktail menus galore, and the realisation that Brits are buying lots and lots (we mean LOTS) of rum – it’s The Nightcap!
It’s hard to know what’s more thrilling: the upcoming long weekend or Star Wars Day. Happily, you can celebrate both with an opportune bit of punning, perhaps with a Whisky and Yoda Soda, or a Dark and Stormy (Trooper). If you’re not a sci-fi fan, or you’re one of the seven people who don’t know what we’re on about, then you can still get your content fix with a delightful helping of booze-based news.
But there’s still even more news to come, so scroll on for The Nightcap, folks – and May the 4th be with you!
The love for rum is real, as bars like London’s Rum and Sugar will know.
Brits buy 35 million bottles of rum in 12 months!
Got a taste for rum? You are clearly not alone. Stats from the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) released this week show that collectively, we’re becoming a nation of rum fans. And spiced rum alone shifted almost 10 million of those 35 million bottles in the last 12 months! The number of brands available is climbing too; in 2006 just 50 were on the market compared to 200 now! In total, the rum category in the UK is now worth just over £1 billion – hot on the heels of gin. “It’s been another great year for rum sales in the UK,” said WSTA chief exec, Miles Beale. “British drinkers have more choice than ever before when it comes to rum. Craft spirits are ‘of the moment’, and an increasing number of artisanal spirits producers are crafting their own interpretations of the spirit – often alongside their gin range.” Are you loving all things rum? Let us know your tipple of choice!
The mixers will be available in smoky, spicy, herbal, and woody flavours
Coca-Cola launches Signature Mixers with top bartenders
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last couple of years (and no disrespect intended to the vibrant rock-dwelling community, you people rock!), then you will have noticed that the market for mixers has exploded. Now, the biggest beverage of the lot has got in on the action: Coca-Cola. Yes, the soft drinks behemoth has just launched its Signature Mixers range. This consists of four variations on the classic recipe, designed in conjunction with top bartenders: ‘Smoky Notes’ by Max Venning; ‘Spicy Notes’ by Adriana Chía and Pippa Guy; ‘Herbal Notes’ by Antonio Naranjo; and ‘Woody Notes’ by Alex Lawrence. Each new mixer has been designed with specific spirits in mind. For example, Max Venning’s version is meant to go with spiced rums and full-bodied premium whiskies. Ana Amura, senior brand manager at Coca-Cola Great Britain, said: “Coca-Cola has always had a synergy with dark spirits and classic cocktails. With the rise of mixed drinks, we’re excited to announce the launch of Coca-Cola Signature Mixers, a specific range uniquely created to mix with dark spirits.” They should be available later this month. We can’t wait to try them all, and see if any can beat a good old Jack & Coke.
A decade of deliciousness!
González Byass celebrates ten years of Tio Pepe En Rama
The annual release of a new Tio Pepe En Rama is now such a fixture that it’s hard to imagine that the team at González Byass were very uncertain when it first launched ten years ago. Winemaker Antonio Flores didn’t know whether an unfiltered wine would be stable, so he put ‘drink within three months’ on the label, “like yoghurt,” he joked when the 10th edition was revealed Ibérica restaurant on Great Portland Street, London, this week. “We were nervous about bottling a sherry without any treatment. It seemed very risky,” he said. Furthermore, would anyone buy it? They needn’t have worried. At one wine merchant, the first release sold out in three hours. González Byass president, Mauricio González-Gordon, thanked the UK market for getting behind this innovative wine. Before a special dinner cooked by Asturian chef Nacho Manzano, we drank old En Rama releases. Far from deteriorating in the bottle, some of the older wines had evolved beautifully – though it has to be said the younger wines, particularly the 2018 and the soon-to-arrive 2019 release, were the highlights. En Rama sherries provide a straight-from-the-barrel taste, “Jerez en una botella”, as Antonio Flores put it. They’ve also proved a great way of creating a buzz about sherry, as the packed room demonstrated.
The new Spritz menu is sensationally summery, and we’re here for it
Swift kicks off summer with Spritz Menu
Forget the clocks changing or the astronomical calendar – we all know the only way to declare summer’s arrival is with a Spritz. And Soho bar Swift went all-out this week with a dedicated Aperitivo menu for summer! Not only are the serves delicious, but if you get to the bar from 3-7pm they are an absolute bargain at £5 each. The five-strong menu is light, bright, and seriously easy-sipping: we adored the Solstice, made with Martini Bitter, blood orange vermouth, passionfruit, and, of course, Prosecco. Also on the menu (and highly recommended) is the Green Liming, made with Ford’s Gin, granny smith apple, elderflower and tonic. There’s also a ‘craft’ focus all summer long; stop in and you might be able to try your hand at the likes of posy- or headdress-making. If you’re in London and in need of a refresher, you know what to do!
We can’t wait to see the results of the collaborations!
The Zetter Townhouse announces new bar collaboration
We are excited to report that The Zetter Townhouse is relaunching with a new drinks collaboration for the first time in eight years! It will be partnering with Matt Whiley, aka The Talented Mr. Fox, and Rich Woods, aka The Cocktail Guy, in early June, relaunching its two award-winning cocktail bars in Clerkenwell and Marylebone. Whiley and Woods will collaborate with the Zetter Townhouse team on concept and cocktail creation, as well as ingredient and recipe development. It sounds like the joining of some rather strong drinks forces, as the team will have access to Whiley and Woods’ development lab in Hackney and the Townhouse’s own lab in Clerkenwell. We can’t wait to see what incredible creations will come from this dream team.
A colourful contribution to an important cause
The Benevolent raises awareness with colourful campaign
The Benevolent is a dedicated drinks industry charity that offers a range of services to support professionals, from counselling sessions to emergency grants. And this week, it launched a new initiative called #benevolentcolours! The campaign encourages those within the trade to wear red, white or rosé (or a mix of all three) and raise awareness of the ‘It could be me’ message, which asks for members of the drinks industry to sign up online to donate £5 a month. The initiative is the result of a PR collaboration between Dillon Morrall, emma wellings pr, Limm Communications, Phipps Relations and R&R Teamwork, who will donate £1 for every picture posted on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the #benevolentcolours hashtag and mentioning @drinkscharityuk. The Benevolent has also specifically asked drinks folks heading to The London Wine Fair in Olympia on 21 May to show support for the campaign. “We wanted to get the best creative minds round the table to help to raise awareness of all the great work that the Charity is involved with,” said Michael Saunders, The Benevolent chairman, and Chris Porter, CEO, in a joint statement. The wine trade’s very own snappy dresser Jancis Robinson added: “I can’t wait to get rummaging in my wardrobe to find a red, white or pink outfit for 21 May (though white poses challenges for wine tasters…). £5 a month to help fund all the valuable work The Benevolent is doing is surely a no-brainer.” The Benevolent does indeed do great work, so check it out and, if you can, donate!
Our MoM-tastic whiskey tasting for visitors to the Cork Book Festival
We take a trip to the Cork World Book Festival
MoM spent an action-packed two days in Cork with Anne Griffin supporting her whiskey-filled novel When all is Said. While we were there, we couldn’t not visit the home of Irish whiskey, Midleton Distillery! Our brilliant guide David Corr showed us around the old distillery where we marvelled at the old 140,000 (no there isn’t an extra zero in there) litre pot stills that were used in the old days (they now only use tiddly 80,000-litre stills). He also gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the Method and Madness micro-distillery where some of Midleton’s more experimental whiskies are made. Best of all, he was very generous with the Barry Crockett Legacy single pot still whiskey. There was just time for a quick nap before our next appointment, putting on a whiskey tasting for visitors to the Cork Book Festival. A few people said they didn’t drink whiskey and asked if we had any wine, but were soon converted by a dram of Bushmills Black Bush. Our bags were much lighter on the flight home. Thank you Midleton, and thank you Cork for making us feel so welcome!
Aidy Smith, Helena Nicklin and Colin Hampden-White, who will deliver two masterclasses
The Three Drinkers head to London Whisky Weekender
Have you been following The Three Drinkers’ exploits on Amazon Prime? If so, you’ll already be familiar with this trio. Colin Hampden-White, Aidy Smith and Helena Nicklin taste their way through the world of drinks, making all kinds of discoveries along the way – and now they will host two master classes during the three-day London Whisky Weekender at London’s Kia Oval from 10-12 May! The wider event, now in its ninth year, will feature more than 150 whiskies, and, alongside the masterclass programme, there will be opportunities to get your bottles valued, and even immerse yourself in the world of gin (yep, it’s not just whisky!). For more info and tickets, check out the London Whisky Weekender Eventbrite page.
Happy Anniversary to the wonderful Grosvenor House!
Happy 90th birthday, Grosvenor House!
On Tuesday, we hightailed it up to super-fancy-pants hotel JW Marriott Grosvenor House London to join in its 90th-anniversary celebrations! To mark the occasion, the team threw open the doors for a big bash, showing off not only its bulging address book (there was many a celeb) but a gorgeous multi-million-pound renovation, too. On the night, the hotel recreated neighbouring Hyde Park in its forecourt, filling both inside and out to the brim with yellow roses. It was enchanting. Once inside, we were treated to the full food and drink offering, and, naturally, we found our home-from-home in The Red Bar. It’s a cosy, atmospheric nook, filled with mirrors, cosy seats and an air of chicness. From barrel-aged cocktails to signature creations, if you find yourself in West London and in need of a treat, we can highly recommend. Here’s to Grosvenor House deliciousness for the next 90 years!
And finally… Love! Jonathan Van Ness fronts glitziest beer for Seattle Pride
Can you believe?! Jonathan Van Ness, hairdresser, figure skater and Queer Eye phenomenon, has partnered with Elysian Brewing Company to front its GLITTERis Pride Ale! Set to be released in time for Seattle Pride on 30 June, the ale is truly giving us Beyoncé. It’s made using Mandarina hops, weighs in at 4.4% ABV, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Seattle Pride organisation. Can you handle the CON-FI-DONCE?! But there’s more! Not only is our beloved JVN the face of GLITTERis Pride, his partnership with Seattle Brewing and Elysian Brewing includes a very special competition. JVN will officiate a wedding on 4 June, and he’s searching for the magic couple! We are NOT getting basic, basic, basic. Want in? If you’re planning to get married and are part of the LGBT+ community, you simply have to check out Elysian Brewing’s site for more details. Yas queen!
Don’t let your bottles of Port, sherry or Madeira gather dust. Our guide to getting the most out of these underrated classics will keep you drinking through the winter and…
Don’t let your bottles of Port, sherry or Madeira gather dust. Our guide to getting the most out of these underrated classics will keep you drinking through the winter and into spring and summer.
What’s Christmas Day without a decent drop of Port with your stilton? For me, it’s the highlight of the festive season, so much more delicious than bland old turkey. But like turkey, for most of us, fortified wines are a once a year thing. Which is a shame as they are some of the best value and most versatile wines known to mankind. Fortified wines are great with food including difficult flavours like blue cheese and chocolate, they make useful cocktail ingredients, and the richer ones are a great lighter alternative to brandy or whisky for post-meal sippage. So here’s a guide to keep you fortified throughout the year with three recommendations at the end.