It's like the Goldilocks of the sherry world, and your new secret weapon.
If there’s one true secret-weapon ingredient in our cocktail arsenal, it would be sherry. Well, sherries. To say “sherry” is misleading, because these fortified wines are crazy diverse — fino sherries are lighter and drier than even the driest white wine; Pedro Ximinez are rich, boozier, sweeter.
So let’s call amontillado the Goldilocks of the sherry world. Medium-bodied, they gain intriguing nutty notes from oxidation and often show remarkable complexity. And at under 20 percent ABV, they add layers and layers of flavor to cocktails without all the alcohol that spirits contribute. Here are three drinks we love.
Easy: Bamboo Revisited
The Bamboo is a terrifically classy cocktail that dates back to the 1890s, a simple drink of fino sherry and dry vermouth. For a low-alcohol sipper, you can’t get more sophisticated. Our version is a bit richer, using amontillado sherry instead of bone-dry fino, and a light, floral Bianco vermouth instead of the dry stuff. Best part: Two before dinner won’t leave you woozy.
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine an ounce and a half of amontillado sherry, an ounce and a half of Bianco vermouth, 2 dashes of Angostura bitters and 2 dashes of orange bitters. Stir until very well-chilled, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist, squeezed over the surface of the glass.
Intermediate: Sherry-Rum Rickey
There’s a distinct savory, complex character to amontillado that makes for an incredible pairing with funky Jamaican rum. Add some lime and soda and you’ve got a drink that’s half Caribbean, half south of Spain; what’s not to like?
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine an ounce of Jamaican rum (we like Appleton Reserve), an ounce of amontillado, half an ounce of fresh lime juice and half an ounce of simple syrup. Shake all that up well, then strain into a tall glass with fresh ice. Top with two ounces of soda and stir briefly. Garnish with a lime wedge, squeezed into the drink.
Advanced: Mint Cobbler
Nothing more than sherry with crushed-up fruit and sugar — and lots of ice — the cobbler is among the most refreshing drinks we know. (And, again, quite low-alcohol, so a big delicious cocktail won’t get you fuzzy-headed.) Muddling orange lets the citrus oils integrate into the cocktail, while mint adds a fresh herbal element. Both perfect sidekicks for amontillado sherry.
If you don’t have an easy way to crush ice, just use cracked cubes — take an ice cube in your hand, whack it hard with a spoon until it splits into shards, and repeat until you can fill a glass. Promise, it’ll go faster than you think.
Instructions: In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle 1/4 of an orange, cut into several pieces. Add 1/2 ounce of raw sugar syrup (Sugar in the Raw dissolved in an equal part of hot water) and 3 ounces of amontillado sherry, along with 10 mint leaves. Shake until very well-chilled, then double-strain into a glass with crushed or cracked ice. Garnish with an orange slice, a straw, and a few mint sprigs, gently tapped against your hand to release their aroma.