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Port or sherry for cocktails? Or both?


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#1 Penwu

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 11:48 AM

I'm looking to add a few new items to my home bar now that Christmas has passed, and one of the things I'd like is a new wine-like ingredient to work with. Looking through by recipe books, I see both port and sherry in fairly equal amounts. Is either one more generally useful? I don't have any specific drinks in mind, I just want to expand my horizons, and I need something that won't go stale/sour/bad too quickly, as I don't go through my booze very fast. I did some looking through the archives here, but didn't find much at all on either port or sherry...can anyone recommend a style or brand of either that would be a good general-purpose cocktail ingredient?

Thanks!

#2 Chris Amirault

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 11:55 AM

Society member Dave Wondrich made the case for sherry cocktails in a recent issue of Saveur. Here's the online version.
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#3 bostonapothecary

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 12:29 PM

Society member Dave Wondrich made the case for sherry cocktails in a recent issue of Saveur. Here's the online version.

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for dry sherries i'm in love with la cigarrera's manzanilla pasada for something dry but it does parish fast. the 30 year matuselem is fairly common and is the best reasonably priced sweet sherry i've ever had. sub it for coffee liqueur in an espresso martini and you've got something serious... port lasts long enough but doesn't often come in half bottles. i've never had any particular one where its nuance really showed well in a cocktail. a cheap disposable ruby is fun to play with.

a good bang for your buck is with madeira and it lasts for a long time. a really cool bottling is the stuff by the "rare wine co"... "boston bual" or "new york malmsey" these are sweet but have awesome acidity. i haven't experimented too far from the rare wine co. because like sherry so much of what you see on the shelves is jug wine junk... but if the price is right you can make awesome punch or nog out of jug wine junk...
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#4 shantytownbrown

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 07:20 PM

Society member Dave Wondrich made the case for sherry cocktails in a recent issue of Saveur. Here's the online version.

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a good bang for your buck is with madeira and it lasts for a long time. a really cool bottling is the stuff by the "rare wine co"... "boston bual" or "new york malmsey" these are sweet but have awesome acidity.

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will back this up..just got ourselves a bottle of the NY Malmsey...mainly for my wife a cream sherry drinker...she loved it...i would have to say this is a great dessert/apres dinner quoif....rasins, coffe, chocolate, burnt sugary almonds....mmmmm

not sure i'd mix with it, but for my first Madeira..great stuff...!! and supposedly it could out live me on the self...(opened)

#5 campus five

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 11:10 PM

I'm a big fan of the Dewey D (Don Lee, PDT)
2 oz. Rye
3/4 oz. Lustau East India Sherry
1/2 oz. Aperol
dash Angostura
stir, cook, strain, up
orange twist

Also, I just got some Dios Baco Pedro Ximenez, wow. %100 PX - so rich, so delicous.

A side note, I find it funny that the best sherry selection I've been able to find around me is not any of the better liquor stores, but instead at Bristol Farms, the gourmet supermarket. They have everything!

#6 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 December 2008 - 03:32 PM

That looks tasty. I just made a Bamboo Cocktail from Dave's Saveur article:

1 1/2 oz sherry (I used Lustau Escuadrilla amontillado)
1 1/2 oz NP dry vermouth
dash Angostura
dash orange bitters (again, Angostura)
lemon twist

It's excellent, and promises to be a fine appetizer accompaniment.
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#7 Splificator

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Posted 29 December 2008 - 03:48 PM

It's excellent, and promises to be a fine appetizer accompaniment.

One of my favorite cocktails. Particularly when I'm a-fearin' the booze.
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#8 Kent Wang

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Posted 29 December 2008 - 05:12 PM

What's a good port or sherry to buy for mixing, that's not too expensive? Say, around $30/750mL?

#9 Chris Amirault

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Posted 29 December 2008 - 05:20 PM

That Lustau made a fine Bamboo Cocktail and I got a fifth of it for under $20.
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#10 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 12:22 AM

What's a good port or sherry to buy for mixing, that's not too expensive? Say, around $30/750mL?

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$30 is starting to reach into the upper levels of what you can spend on commonly available dry sherries or ruby ports. You should be able to find something serviceable in both categories for half that, or get a mighty fine example for about $20. Graham's Six Grapes, Cockburns Special Reserve, and Dow's Ruby are all respectable rubies (in descending order of price). I was reasonably pleased with the Savory & James sherries I started out with, and they can be had for about $10/btl. I've never been disappointed by anything from Sandeman's, so it might be a good place to start, though I don't have extensive experience with Sherry. Whatever you can't use up in cocktails or drink though makes a great wine for flambeeing, particularly mushrooms. Yumyumyum.
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#11 bostonapothecary

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 12:51 AM

One of my favorite cocktails. Particularly when I'm a-fearin' the booze.

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i run into this same feeling all the time most often at the end of the night... and no bartenders seem to understand this style of drink... socially i need one more. but i can't metabolize the usual so i look to low alcohol high flavor sherry and vermouth...

i think the last time i tried to order a bamboo i was charged $12. and it took a lot of explaining why i would want something like that in the first place... (at a cocktail spot)

with the ingredients in the bamboo (or even the half sinner, half saint) so affordable you should be able to get it near anywhere for less and $8.

some day.
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#12 Splificator

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 07:36 AM

One of my favorite cocktails. Particularly when I'm a-fearin' the booze.

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i run into this same feeling all the time most often at the end of the night... and no bartenders seem to understand this style of drink... socially i need one more. but i can't metabolize the usual so i look to low alcohol high flavor sherry and vermouth...

i think the last time i tried to order a bamboo i was charged $12. and it took a lot of explaining why i would want something like that in the first place... (at a cocktail spot)

with the ingredients in the bamboo (or even the half sinner, half saint) so affordable you should be able to get it near anywhere for less and $8.

some day.

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Word.
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#13 Penwu

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 08:46 PM

Thanks, guys! I ended up getting a bottle of Lustau "Los Arcos" dry amontillado (which cost me $13 at Total Wine). Haven't had the chance to crack it open yet, but I am very much looking forward to it - and that Bamboo will probably be my first drink, since I have a fresh bottle of NP dry already. :)

#14 brinza

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 12:00 PM

$30 is starting to reach into the upper levels of what you can spend on commonly available dry sherries or ruby ports. You should be able to find something serviceable in both categories for half that, or get a mighty fine example for about $20. Graham's Six Grapes, Cockburns Special Reserve, and Dow's Ruby are all respectable rubies (in descending order of price).

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Glad to see you mention Graham's Six Grapes. I've fallen in love with that stuff. I've had Cockburn's as well which I also liked. The Six Grapes is so agreeable to me that I'd have little reason to bother looking for another ruby port unless for some specific purpose.
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#15 Chris Amirault

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 09:58 PM

I'm a big fan of the Dewey D (Don Lee, PDT)
2 oz. Rye
3/4 oz. Lustau East India Sherry
1/2 oz. Aperol
dash Angostura
stir, cook, strain, up
orange twist

View Post


I used the Lustau Escuadrilla amontillado I mentioned above, and Rittenhouse BIB for the rye. Wow. This is a fantastic drink, with the spice of the rye and bitters picking up the nuttiness of the sherry, all shot through with the citrus from the Aperol and twist.
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#16 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 11:13 PM

Is it safe to say that the Sherrys called for in cocktails are always either Fino or Amontillado? (Unless specified of course).
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#17 bostonapothecary

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 11:46 PM

I'm a big fan of the Dewey D (Don Lee, PDT)
2 oz. Rye
3/4 oz. Lustau East India Sherry
1/2 oz. Aperol
dash Angostura
stir, cook, strain, up
orange twist

View Post


I used the Lustau Escuadrilla amontillado I mentioned above, and Rittenhouse BIB for the rye. Wow. This is a fantastic drink, with the spice of the rye and bitters picking up the nuttiness of the sherry, all shot through with the citrus from the Aperol and twist.

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so your drink ended up with significantly less sugar than if you used the sweeter "east india"?

i'd probably personally enjoy it best with a drier sherry (manzanilla pasada is my favorite style... "la cigarrera"!) strange proportions but awesome sounding flavor contrasts!
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#18 slkinsey

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 06:10 AM

Is it safe to say that the Sherrys called for in cocktails are always either Fino or Amontillado? (Unless specified of course).

Isn't "cocktail sherry" sweeter than that? Like an oloroso?
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#19 brinza

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 07:50 AM

Is it safe to say that the Sherrys called for in cocktails are always either Fino or Amontillado? (Unless specified of course).

Isn't "cocktail sherry" sweeter than that? Like an oloroso?

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These are good questions. I haven't really experimented with sherry in cocktails mainly because I'm never sure which sherries to buy for the purpose. I've seen (and deliberately avoided) bottles labeled "cocktail sherry" because they always seem to be very large bottles on the bottom shelf, and I worry that they might be only a step above supermarket cooking sherry.
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#20 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 10:02 AM

Is it safe to say that the Sherrys called for in cocktails are always either Fino or Amontillado? (Unless specified of course).

Isn't "cocktail sherry" sweeter than that? Like an oloroso?

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I've only ever had one Oloroso (I think it was the Rey Fernando de Castilla Antique Oloroso) and it was awesome but I found it to have no apparent sweetness on the palate (though there is of course RS). Does the sweetness of Oloroso vary between producers?
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#21 eje

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 10:39 AM

Is it safe to say that the Sherrys called for in cocktails are always either Fino or Amontillado? (Unless specified of course).

Isn't "cocktail sherry" sweeter than that? Like an oloroso?

View Post


I've only ever had one Oloroso (I think it was the Rey Fernando de Castilla Antique Oloroso) and it was awesome but I found it to have no apparent sweetness on the palate (though there is of course RS). Does the sweetness of Oloroso vary between producers?

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"Oloroso" refers to production methods. While Oloroso sherries are often used as a base for sweet style sherries, this isn't necessarily the case.

They do tend to be richer in flavor, but not necessarily sweet. The one I've used from time to time in cocktails, Emilio Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Oloroso, isn't very sweet at all.

From a wikipedia article on Oloroso:

Unlike the fino and amontillado sherries, in oloroso sherries the flor yeast is suppressed by fortification at an earlier stage. This causes the finished wine to lack the fresh yeasty taste of the fino sherries. Without the layer of flor, the sherry is exposed to air through the slightly porous walls of the American or Canadian oak casks, and undergoes oxidative aging. As the wine ages, it becomes darker and stronger and is often left for many decades.


On the whole, I tend to assume the sherries called for in cocktails, unless otherwise specified, are supposed to be dry style sherries.
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#22 slkinsey

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 10:40 AM

Yes, I should have said "richer" rather than "sweeter."
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#23 bostonapothecary

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 10:44 AM

i love sherry and i give a taste of it to everyone that is really into macallan.
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#24 Splificator

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 10:55 AM

On the whole, I tend to assume the sherries called for in cocktails, unless otherwise specified, are supposed to be dry style sherries.

For me, it really depends on the cocktail. Sherries have such a range of sweetness and body that you can cover a whole lot of territory with them.

I tend to use them as vermouth analogues. For something where I,ight otherwise use a dry vermouth, I'll usually go with a fino or a manzanilla or (for a little more depth of flavor) an unsweetened amontillado.

For sweet vermouth analogues, on the other hand, I'll use a semi-sweet Amontillado like the Sandeman Character (a personal favorite, particularly with gin) or a semi-sweet Oloroso like the Lustau East India (good whith whiskey).

If I want to turn up the volume a few notches, I'll reach for the lovely Dry Sack 15, a sweeter, older oloroso with a lot of oomph.

And if I want to go nuts, it's the Pedro Ximenez. That, to me, works better as an accent, though, in the way one might use an Italian amaro (a similar level of concentration, lthough it lacks the bitterness).
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#25 eje

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 10:18 AM

Big article on Sherry in today's SF Chronicle:

Restaurants' pairings ease novices into sherry

Quite presciently, sherry has also been elevated via the cocktail. Many top bartenders view it as the revival of an ingredient held high among 19th century barmen in drinks such as the Adonis, a mix of sherry and vermouth, or the sherry cobbler, a mix of sherry, fruit and ice. (See recipes, Page F6)

"The sherry cobbler was pretty much king. It was like the Cosmo of its time in the late 1800s," says bar consultant Dominic Venegas, who devised a cocktail list at Gitane that includes the cobbler along with creations like the Solera, based on rum and oloroso sherry.


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#26 bostonapothecary

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 10:11 AM

so i just picked up the orange peel aromatized sherry from harvey's. the product was launched a couple years ago as a gateway to get more people into sherry but was unfortunately doomed to obscurity... well its quite tasty. and i'd say probably less orangey than lillet... and it needs a cocktail to show it off...

so far i made the dewey d but i only had campari... i'd say it has about the same sweetness as the lustau east india solera. well the drink did show off the sherry but it didn't blow my mind. i kind of wanted to contrast the orange against other things by not mixing it with other orange aromatized products like unfortunately most all amaros.

i did mix something like a last word/ward

1:1:1:1 rye, orange sherry, green chartreuse, lime juice.... only slightly amusing and the sherry really got lost...

anyone using it? any ideas?

2 oz. rye
1 oz. orange sherry
2 dashes fernet

this will be my next try...
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#27 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 10:23 AM

Got to give another endorsement to the Bamboo. Oddly enough I had picked up a bottle of the Sandeman's Character Amontillado to try the week before all this discussion began but only recently got around to opening it. What a great drink to have while cooking, up or on the rocks. Extremely elegant, and I think the Character might even be a good candidate for a 'gateway' to the world of sherry.

Such a pity drinks like this went out of fashion. I feel like the world is a lesser place for it.
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#28 Kent Wang

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 02:06 AM

I got the Lustau Amontillado and tried the Bamboo and thought it tasted rather watery. You have two low alcohol fortified wines (sherry and vermouth) that are both light-bodied (e.g. dry sherry, dry vermouth) -- as opposed to a richer sherry or sweet vermouth -- I just don't see myself growing to like this drink.

I think I'd like to try a richer sherry, sounds like Sandeman's Character or Lustau East India?

Also picked up the Six Grapes port. Any port cocktails out there? I think I recall seeing a few in the Savoy Cocktail Book.

#29 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 07:49 AM

I got the Lustau Amontillado and tried the Bamboo and thought it tasted rather watery. You have two low alcohol fortified wines (sherry and vermouth) that are both light-bodied (e.g. dry sherry, dry vermouth) -- as opposed to a richer sherry or sweet vermouth -- I just don't see myself growing to like this drink.

I think I'd like to try a richer sherry, sounds like Sandeman's Character or Lustau East India?

Also picked up the Six Grapes port. Any port cocktails out there? I think I recall seeing a few in the Savoy Cocktail Book.

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Yeah I think what is needed for cocktail sherry is a Medium Amontillado, which will have been lightly sweetened (presumably with the addition of PX, as in the case of the Sandeman's Character). Contributes some body. Doesn't hurt that the stuff is delicious by itself, too.

Imbibe! lists some Port drinks as well, lurking in the vacinity of the sherry ones. Port wine sangaree is not to be missed. Don't forget the nutmeg.
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#30 bostonapothecary

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 08:54 AM

SanRu @ saveur.com


saveur points out the sanru cocktail from a mid century spanish bar book.

1 oz. amontillado sherry
1 oz. dubonnet rouge
1 oz. gin
1/2 tsp. cherry heering


anybody ever try it?
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