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Penwu

Port or sherry for cocktails? Or both?

83 posts in this topic

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!

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

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...


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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

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.

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)

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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!

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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.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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

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


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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

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

$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.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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

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.


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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

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.

Word.


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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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. :)

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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).

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.


Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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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

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.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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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

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.

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!


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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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?


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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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?

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.


Mike

"The mixing of whiskey, bitters, and sugar represents a turning point, as decisive for American drinking habits as the discovery of three-point perspective was for Renaissance painting." -- William Grimes

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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?

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?


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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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?

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?

"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.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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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).


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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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.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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