Does Spain Have the World's Greatest Drinking Culture?
Is it even a question? My Spanish dispatches, including three new cocktail recipes inspired by Jerez.
If you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while now, you know there are a few topics that I revisit on a regular basis. German, Loire, Italian, and Austrian wines, for instance. Others might be the world of brandy, pasta pairings, and the joys of lazy cocktails. And, of course, the endless question of why sherry isn’t more popular—and why it should be more so (as I wrote about in Thursday’s newsletter ICYMI).
But sherry is only part of Spain’s rich drinking culture and its vast universe of unique wine and spirits. Since we have a lot of new readers who’ve joined us this summer—the number of subscribers to Everyday Drinking has doubled since Memorial Day—I want to revisit some of the Spanish dispatches that I’ve published over the past year. I’ve made three visits since last July, and so the information is completely up to date.
I’m also including three cocktail recipes below, inspired by sherry and Brandy de Jerez.
First, my report on the new wave of winemaking happening in Rioja and how it’s reshaping Spain’s most prestigious region.
Next, my deep dive into Catalonia’s sparkling wine, which has become a bit confusing now as the best Cava is not even called Cava.
I visited the up-and-coming wine region near Madrid, and tasted some of the most exciting wines in all of Spain.
In Andalusia, I recently explore sherry’s cousin, the dry Pedro Ximénez based wines from Montilla-Moriles. Which I loved.
Finally, sherry isn’t the only game in Jerez. Spanish brandy is a category that’s being reinvigorated by savvy producers.
Three Jerez-Influenced Cocktails
Even though, last week, I implored readers to think of sherry more as a wine than a cocktail ingredient, one cannot deny the place of sherry — and its cousin, Brandy de Jerez — behind the bar. Sherry has been a staple since cocktails first appeared in the 19th century. The sherry cobbler (sherry, fruit, and ice) was the espresso martini of its day. Early 20th century classics like the Duke of Marlborough, the Bamboo, the Adonis, and the East Indian — all of which are varying combinations of sherry, vermouth, and bitters — wonderfully showcase the wine.
Flor de Jerez
This mix of sherry, rum, and apricot is a famous Death & Co concoction, created Joaquín Simó. Use good-quality amontillado, such as one from Valdespino or Lustau. For rum, go with something aged in the $25-30 range, such as Appleton Reserve, Flor de Caña Gran Reserva 7-year-old, Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry, or Equiano’s new lightly-aged bottling. For the apricot liqueur, always use Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot.
1½ ounces amontillado sherry
½ ounce aged rum
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup
¼ ounce apricot liqueur
1 dash Angostura bitters
Fill shaker halfway with ice. Add all liquid ingredients and shake well. Strain into cocktail glass.
Over the years, I’ve found that Cynar, the artichoke-based amaro, is an amazing mixing partner with sherry. You can see it here in this cocktail created by Misty Kalkofen (which she named because it’s sassy and sophisticated, just like Faye Dunaway). Kalkofen’s original calls for fino, but I also like the way amontillado works here. Note the odd measurement of sherry.
2 ¼ ounces fino or amontillado sherry
½ ounce Cynar
¼ ounce maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
2 dashes orange bitters
Twist of lemon peel, for garnish
Combine sherry, Cynar, maraschino liqueur, and bitters in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir vigorously, then strain into a cocktail glass. Express lemon peel over the top, then add as garnish.
This is variation on a variation—specifically the Little Italy, which is itself a variation of a Manhattan. Instead of rye whiskey, it calls for Brandy de Jerez, such as Lepanto, Cardenal Mendoza, or Gran Duque d'Alba.
2 ounces Spanish brandy
¾ ounce sweet vermouth
½ ounce Cynar
Combine brandy, vermouth, and Cynar in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir vigorously, then strain into a cocktail glass.