Sherry Three Ways: Easy Cocktail Recipes to Try at Home
Sam Johnson is a little bit obsessed with sherry. For Johnson, the bartender at Leyenda in Brooklyn, the fortified wine made from Spain’s native Palomino grapes is the surest way to bring richness and complexity to cocktails. “I love sherry’s diversity of flavor,” he says. “Fino sherry can lend a green apple–like acidity, while oloroso can impart chocolate to a drink.”
For his experimentation, Johnson was recently awarded first prize at the 2017 U.S. Sherry Cocktail Competition. (The winning drink: a tiki-inspired cobbler made with amontillado and manzanilla sherries and laced with a toasted sesame tincture.) But he’s not the only fan: from Until Tomorrow in New York City to Anina in San Francisco, bartenders are mixing it up with sherry. Read on for three ways to bring the trend home.
In this austere but not-too-boozy cocktail, bartender Sam Johnson inverts the proportions of a wet martini and replaces the dry vermouth with a briny, bone-dry sherry. It’s perfect as an aperitif.
Pour 2 oz. manzanilla pasada or fino sherry and1 oz. Plymouth gin in a mixing glass. Add1 dash orange bitters, andfill the glass with ice. Stir until the outside of the glass is frosty, about 30 seconds, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
This pre-Prohibition cocktail from Tom Bullock’s The Ideal Bartender uses rich oloroso sherry to match the body and flavor of bourbon. The sherry also adds sweetness and acid to this highball.
In a cocktail shaker, dissolve 1½ tsp. demerara sugar in 1 tsp. hot water. Add1¼ oz. oloroso sherry, 1 oz. 100-proof bourbon, ½ oz. fresh pineapple juice, and½ oz. fresh lemon juice; shake vigorously to combine.Strain into an ice-filled collins glass, and top with3 oz. soda water. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and pineapple frond, if desired.
Riffing on the term manzanilla, which means “chamomile” in Spanish, Johnson uses chamomile syrup to extend manzanilla sherry’s long finish. The result is lightly floral and very refreshing.
Brew a strong chamomile tea with 2 chamomile tea bags and ½ cup boiling water. Let steep 3 minutes; remove bags, and add ½ cup sugar. Stir until dissolved, and let cool. Add 1¼ oz. manzanilla sherry, ¾ oz. navy-strength gin, ¾ oz. chamomile syrup,¾ oz. fresh lemon juice, and 1 pasteurized egg white into a shaker. Shake until ingredients are well combined and frothy, about 10 seconds. Add ice, and shake vigorously until outside of shaker is frosty, about 30 seconds. Strain into a martini glass, and garnish with a chamomile flower, if desired.