For most of the last several decades, sherry has been relegated to grandmothers’ cupboards, cooking and sickly sweet cocktails. This was partially due to the influx of low price (and low-quality) sherry that dominated the US market for much of that time. But thankfully, in the last couple of years craft bars have begun putting sherry back on the menu, celebrating its unique versatility and flavor in both classic and new cocktails alike.
One of sherry’s best qualities is its versatility. A fino sherry tastes completely different from a cream or oloroso sherry, and must be treated differently in cocktails as well. Use dry sherries in cocktails with clear spirits like gin or pair them with dry vermouth to add aromatics and complexity. Sweeter, full-bodied sherries like amontillados or light olorosos often go well with the oaky molasses flavor of aged spirits, so you’ll often find those sherries mixed into cocktails with bourbon or rye.
Take a look below for three classic Sherry cocktail recipes that shine a light on sherry’s versatility in mixed drinks.
This classic cocktail is a very dry and slightly nutty take on the martini, without the aromatics of vermouth but with a hint of citrus from the orange bitters.
2 oz London dry gin
1 oz dry sherry
1 dash orange bitters
Stir ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, then strain into a chilled martini glass.
Created by Louis Eppinger in the 1890s, this drink has an incredibly complex flavor profile thanks to its use of two vermouths and two bitters.
1.5 oz dry amontillado Sherry
1.5 oz dry vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
Twist of lemon
Combine in a mixing glass with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with twist of lemon.
THE UP TO DATE
The original “Up to Date” cocktail is from Hugo Ensslin and (ironically) goes all the way back to 1916. The type of sherry was left unspecified, but I used an amontillado to round out the drink’s flavor and complement the rye whiskey.
1.25 oz rye whiskey
1 oz amontillado or light oloroso sherry
.25 oz Grand Marnier
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine in a mixing glass with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Julia Tunstall is the co-creator of A Bar Above. Find her writing and recipes at A Bar Above.com or check out the Mixology Talk Podcast for cocktail tips, tricks and banter.