One of my favorite seminars at Golden State of Cocktails was the one about sherry. It was led by Mollie Casey from Henry Wine Group with commentary from bartenders Alex Day (Honeycut) and Dave Kupchinsky (Eveleigh). Mollie gave us the history of sherry and Alex and Dave talked about applications for sherry in mixed drinks.
First, sherry is a fortified white wine. Sherry comes from the word Jerez. And in Jerez, Spain, sherry is often consumed with food since it’s generally low-proof. Most sherries top out around 15% ABV. One of the best sherries for an afternoon snack of olives, almonds and tapas would be fino sherry. After the bottle is opened, it should be kept chilled– that is, if you don’t finish the bottle. Mollie says half a bottle could be consumed while afternoon snacking! On the other hand, Oloroso has been aged longer and considered already oxidized so you can keep a bottle for much longer after opening.
Some sherry-style wines are still called sherries but technically they are produced outside of Jerez. An example would be Amontillado wine.
Here are some of the sherries we covered and tasted:
Fino – very dry, known for a layer of yeast called “flor” which keeps the sherry form oxidizing. Alex mentioned fino is a good replacement for dry vermouths in drinks.
Manzanilla – a type of fino
Amontillado – started out as a fino but allowed to oxidize and age
Oloroso – not as sweet (and I tend to like cocktails with Oloroso sherry best)
Palo Cortado – aged like an Amontillado for 3 or 4 years but tastes more like a Olorosso
Pedro Ximenez – very sweet
When you find a sherry cream, it means it’s a sherry that has sugar added to it. Not to be confused with sweet sherry which is fermenting dried Pedro Ximenz or moscatel grapes.
We tasted Nobody’s Robots, a sherry drink from Honeycut. It’s Dry Sack sherry, vodka and orange cream soda. It was refreshing and something I’d like to have while dancing at the Honeycut disco.
I had noticed Dave had put quite a few sherry drinks on the last menu at Eveleigh. He mentioned sherry was economical and allowed him to bring in some higher-priced spirits for other drinks.
Sack was the old word for sherry. I think sherry sounds so much nicer. I’m sure there were a giggle or two when this was passed around for a taste.
You’ll see the word solera tossed around with sherry, rum and champagne. It means fractional blending. You take the sherry and put it into a cask then move it to another leaving some behind. You keep moving the sherry to yet more casks, always leaving some behind and blending with the old and new. For the Dos Cortado, they did this for 20 years!
Before I ever really got into spirits, I’d like to take a little port after dinner. Sometimes I would have Madeira. I learned that port was basically styled after sherry. After tasting the Pedro Ximenez, I could really see that and now I’d like to see the sherry list as well after dinner.
The sherry seminar was very informative and it was also great to get working bartenders’ input on how to use sherry in drinks.
© LA Cocktails // The Minty 2014