Drink About It

Sherry, Wanderlust and Imperialism

Drink About It: Sherry, Wanderlust and Imperialism
Greater than the sum of its parts.

Criadera of East India Solera. Image property of Europvin, all rights reserved.

Criadera of East India Solera. Image property of Europvin, all rights reserved.

Things you should be drinking more of: sherry. Few things fueled the Age of Exploration and the spread of western imperialism quite like sherry. Everyone loved it, everyone drank it, and no voyage was complete without it. Unlike other wines, sherry is fortified so it could survive the long, hot journeys into the Indies and regions unknown. Rum and navy gin might have been the drink of sailors, but sherry was certainly the drink of choice for the refined imperialist.

#DrinkAboutIt: The Wanderlust
The sun never sets on Jerez.

3 oz. (89 ml) Lustau East India Solera
2 oz. (60 ml) lemon juice
1 oz. (30 ml) orange juice
½ oz. (15 ml) honey syrup (or pimento syrup)*
1 dash turmeric tincture (or saffron)

Tools: shaker, juicer
Glassware: highball

Juice citrus and set aside.
Fill shaker with ice, add sherry, citrus, turmeric tincture and syrup.
Shake until cold
Strain into a highball glass filled with ice.

I first had this drink at the venerable Dorrance where the talented Alice (she has a lot of piercings and a refreshing attitude) mixed it up, off the menu. I didn’t get a chance to ask what she called it, so I hope she doesn’t mind that I gave it a name. It was love at first taste, though, and this will quickly join my stable of easy sippers. I’d recommend whipping it out next time you have to host a brunch. It’ll be something different and I guarantee it will blow your guests away. Especially if you make a large batch and serve it in tiny tea cups, like we are wont to do. But what does it taste like? Well…

Imagine a mimosa traveled a bit, saw some of the world and returned home a little wiser than before. That’s exactly what this drink is like. It’s light and mellow just like a mimosa, but with the sherry it’s nutty, fragrant and complex. It has bright, fresh citrus notes that do a wonderful job of energizing you first thing in the morning (or before a night out). And the citrus does an excellent job of building on the subtleties of the sherry. It’s a wonderfully refined tipple advanced far beyond its simple ingredients.

The turmeric tincture might seem like an odd ingredient to combine with sherry and citrus, but it works very well. Admittedly, it’s a personal remix of the drink I had at the Dorrance. Luckily, it doesn’t add much in the way of turmeric flavor–which some people may find off-putting–instead it noticeably brightens up the nuttiness of the sherry and fruitiness of the citrus. Also turmeric’s good for you. To make the tincture, combine turmeric and a (relatively) neutral spirit; grain or potato vodka works great. A mild white whiskey, jenever, or blanco rum would add another level of complexity, though. Mixer’s choice, let’s say. In a pinch you can just add a pinch of ground turmeric to the drink and shake well, no one will know the difference. If you really want to get fancy, a saffron tincture would be preferable (if you can source it). Keep it in Iberia, after all!

A note on ingredients: Lustau offers an excellent range of sherries, one of the most interesting of which (and one of the most popular in the bartending world) is the East India Solera. It’s a new style of sherry that falls somewhere between an Oloroso and a Pedro Ximenez. So, if you know anything about sherry, you would be right in expecting something overly sweet, right? Not exactly…. The beauty of the East India Solera is that it balances the sweetness with a higher level of acidity, making this an excellent way to experience the rich flavor and character of a more oxidized variety, like a PX, while retaining the drinkability of a lighter sherry, like an amontillado. This makes for a very versatile sherry that is perfect to sip after meals or… mix with cocktails? Absolutely!

Check out these quick videos if you’ve got more questions about Lustau’s East India Solera:

via Green and Blue Wines, London

via Ilkka Siren over at Viini TV

*Honey syrup: it’s simply a mixture of equal parts honey and water. Use a good, local honey (we like what they’re making at Aquidneck Farms). Warm water and stir in honey and it’s ready to sweeten your drinks, mix into tea, serve over ice cream or fruit, or sip when you need a pick me up (the stuff’s good, okay??).

If you’re not a fan of honey or want to spice this drink up (quite literally), consider a pimento syrup instead of honey. Make the pimento syrup the way you would make the honey syrup except add allspice berries to the water, bring to a boil and steep for ten minutes (or more, depending on flavor), strain, return water to the stove, heat, stir in turbinado sugar until mixture becomes homogeneous. There you have it, pimento syrup; excellent with rum and other brown alcohols.

How do you like to mix sherry in a cocktail? Tell us in the comments section below!

Happy Drinking!


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