The sweet, sultry sherry is a cocktail secret weapon.
The world of sherry is fascinatingly diverse: there’s rich, nutty Oloroso and light, dry Fino, as distinct from each other as a white Vinho Verde and a juicy Merlot. If you’re after the sweetest, most decadent of them all though, that’s Pedro Ximenez. (Or if you want to be cool like a bartender, just call it PX.)
While these long-aged sherries have an intense, raisin-like sweetness, they also have a balanced acidity that keeps the sugar from being too overwhelming. They’re lovely chilled and sipped slowly with cheese, say, after dinner. But their complex flavors can also emerge beautifully in cocktails. Here are three we’ve concocted recently.
Easy: PX, Vodka, Soda
On its own, the vodka-soda hardly qualifies as a cocktail. But adding vodka and soda to a cocktail can add a lift and sparkle without masking the flavor you’re wishing to showcase. Plain old club soda isn’t enough to transform heavy Pedro Ximenez into a light, sippable drink, but add vodka and a squeeze of lemon, and it’s refreshing and delicious.
Instructions: In a tall glass with ice, combine 1 ounce of vodka, 3/4 ounce of Pedro Ximenez, and 3 ounces of club soda. Give a quick stir. Squeeze in a lemon wedge as a garnish.
Intermediate: PX & Rye
Whiskey is a natural choice to counter the intense sweetness of Pedro Ximenez; spicy rye cuts right through, while a little sweet vermouth helps to balance out this Manhattan-like cocktail. Pleasantly sweet, not cloyingly so.
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine 2 ounces of rye (we’re using 100-proof Rittenhouse), 3/4 ounce of Pedro Ximenez, and 1/4 ounce sweet vermouth. Add a dash of Angostura bitters. Stir until very well-chilled, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with two lemon peels.
Advanced: Rum, Mint, & PX
When we’re after a rich, complex rum drink, we usually reach for the darker bottles with more age on them. But a good measure of Pedro Ximenez contributes that long-aged character when paired with white rum; mint and lemon transform this into an easy-to-love cocktail that’s as drinkable as it is fascinating.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 2 ounces of white rum, 3/4 ounce of Pedro Ximenez, 1 ounce of fresh lemon juice, 1/4 ounce simple syrup, and a dash of orange bitters. Shake until very well-chilled, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a few big, pretty sprigs of mint.