Cheat Sheet: Sherry

Now that it’s fairly easy to find a selection of once-exotic bitters, formerly obscure European liqueurs and even the long-forgotten Dutch genever, it’s time to adopt another mixological cause: sherry.

Yes, we said sherry. Like port, sherry is a fortified wine, but it hails from the region surrounding the city of Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain. And, while it’s often served chilled and neat, the alcohol has been a bartender’s friend since the dawn of the craft. It was such a staple in the mid-1800s that a Sherry Cobbler, according to author Charles Dickens, was simply known as a “Cobbler.”

Many popular drinks made in the 19th century, including Cobblers and Sangarees, most likely used oloroso sherry, which is full-bodied, fragrant and nutty. One good (and easy-to-find) bottling is Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Oloroso Don Nuño ($25).

On the other side of the flavor spectrum sits fino sherry, a dry white wine with mouthwatering acidity. The nearly ubiquitous Tio Pepe Palomino Fino ($19; pictured above) offers flavors of yeast, nuts and lemony freshness.

Misty Kalkofen, head bartender at Boston’s acclaimed Drink, says that fino and the closely related manzanilla inspired her to create a drink for guests who prefer savory tipples, like Dirty Martinis. “I frequently end up reaching for manzanilla or fino sherry in those moments because of their dry and frequently briny characteristics,” says Kalkofen. The Dunaway cocktail she invented calls for fino sherry, a touch of the slightly sweet Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur and a bit of the bitter aperitif Cynar.

Mix one up and you’ll see why sherry is worth saving.

The Dunaway

Contributed by Misty Kalkofen

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2.25 oz Lustau Light Fino Jarana Sherry
  • .5 oz Cynar
  • .25 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
  • 1 piece Lemon peel
  • Glass: Cocktail

PREPARATION:

Add all the ingredients except the lemon peel to a chilled mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass no larger than 4.5 ounces. Twist the lemon peel over the drink and then discard it.

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