To me, there's something unmistakably adult about cocktails made with sherry, with that deeply savory, almost umami quality present in all sorts of non-blended sherries that gives cocktails a lip-smacking piquancy.
So dropping by Brooklyn’s Clover Club for the annual Vinos de Jerez Cocktail Competition was a no-brainer for me. And while I couldn’t hang long enough to sample all the drinks, I did get to enjoy the winner, made by Charles Joly from Chicago’s Drawing Room. Usually, competitions draw too many recipes where the main, sponsoring ingredient overwhelms; not here. In fact, for me a few of the drinks needed more sherry sass and less citrusy tartness, or showed an intensity from other ingredients that masked the sherry contribution. I know, sometimes a well-balanced cocktail requires that no ingredient shine, but secondary characteristics and layered flavors need room to shine. Suddenly, what seemed a quixotic quest by Steve Olson and his associates to drag sherry back into the American bartender’s tool kit has succeeded, at least at this annual competition. Now, more than a whiff of Andalucia is welcome at the bar again; the folks at the sponsoring Sherry Council of America must be thrilled.
Here’s Joly’s winning recipe:
Bread and Wine
1 ounce Lustau “Don Nuño” Dry Oloroso Sherry
1 ½ ounces Balvenie Scotch Doublewood 12 year old
5 dashes absinthe (preferably Sirène Absinthe)
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
¼ - 1/3 ounce maple syrup (depending on tartness of lemons)
Fill Old Fashioned glass with ice, dash with absinthe and set aside. Combine sherry, Balvenie, lemon juice and maple syrup in a mixing glass. Add ice and shake well. Empty Old Fashioned glass, coating sides with absinthe. Add Kold Draft or large pieces of ice. Cut a strip of orange zest using a vegetable peeler. Mist top of glass with orange oil, rub rim and place decoratively in glass. No straws, please.