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Posts Tagged ‘sherry’

*Recent ruminations from LUPEC Boston, originally published in the Weekly Dig.

by Pink Lady

A favored tipple of grandmas and Brits, sherry hasn’t been popular among young’uns like us in a while. We happen to love the stuff. At the Manhattan Cocktail Classic in New York last week, we attended a seminar on sherry drinks that convinced us sherry will be the next hip thing. Here’s a primer, so you know what to expect when you see it pop up on cocktail lists everywhere.

Most people think of sherry as a sweet wine, but it’s actually made in a variety of styles ranging from super dry pale finos, to the rich, lush wines made from Pedro Ximinez, one of the sweetest wines you’ll ever taste.

Sherry is a fortified wine made in Jerez (southern Spain). Palomino fino is the base grape for most sherries, and it yields a regular wine that is light, pleasant to drink and straightforward, if a bit uninteresting. The sherry-making process changes this wine completely, developing complex flavors that make it an interesting ingredient in any cocktail.

Sherry wines are aged in barrels called “butts” (hehe), under a thick layer of yeast called “flor,” which prevents oxidation of the dry fino wines. After aging for six months, the winemaker checks the wines and determines, based on the flor’s thickness, if the wine will be a fino, or a nuttier, oxidized style, like amontillado or oloroso. Each style is then placed in its own solera, a special system of fractional blending, in which old wine is constantly refreshed with new wine. The barrels are stacked on top of one another in rows called “criaderas,” with the oldest butts on top. In some sherry houses, these criaderas house wine for years. Each time the sherry is bottled, an equal amount of vino is drawn off from each of the criaderas in the solera. That wine is then replaced with wine from the next oldest criadera, and winemakers are careful to blend horizontally and vertically across the rows in the solera. It’s a crazy complicated system, brimming with tradition and, in our opinion, a little bit of magic.

Sherry may be perceived as grandmacore, but back in the Golden Age of cocktails, the sherry cobbler was one of the most popular drinks around. It’s a light, refreshing sip, perfect for spring, and one we highly recommend resurrecting on the patio.

THE SHERRY COBBLER
Adapted from IMBIBE by David Wondrich, based on Jerry Thomas’ recipe

4 oz sherry of your choice

0.5 oz simple syrup

2-3 slices of orange

Shake ingredients with cracked ice, pour unstrained into a tall glass, with fresh fruits in season as garnish.

Dr. Wondrich suggests that Jerry Thomas would have been mixing this with fino sherry, but play around and see which you like best. For fuller, sweeter sherries like Pedro Ximinez or oloroso, scale back the sugar.

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Here we come A-Wassailing

by Hanky Panky

Hopefully in the midst of the holiday hustle you were able to snag a copy of this week’s Dig in which the LUPEC ladies unraveled the mystery of wassailing.  Who knew that the phrase that has been confusing us for years could actually be pointing to a delicious libation that can warm us throughout this festive and hectic season.

Thankfully making Wassail is not complicated.  It can, however, be a bit time consuming.  For this reason we decided to feature a recipe for Wassail from one of our favorite books, Jigger, Beaker, & Glass: Drinking Around the World by Charles H. Baker Jr. Mr. Baker is best known for traveling the world over to write about all things related to food and drink.  Those who are fortunate to own this tome know that his prose is as remarkably delicious as the recipes featured therein.  So who better to walk us through the ancient ritual than Mr. Charles H. Baker Jr.  Enjoy!

THE ANCIENT WASSAIL BOWL FROM AN ANCIENT ELIZABETHAN FORMULA, CIRCA 1602, & TRULY NOTABLE FOR ITS EXCEEDING MILDNESS

In Saxon times this custom of the Wassail Bowl at feast days was an important ceremony, and later it became an accepted custom at Christmas Eve, when minstrels or choirs, or village singers went about singing carols where there was a candle lit in the window.

In the Feudal castles, and manor houses, the Wassail Bowl was borne into the banqueting Hall with songs and carols, and crowned with garlands.

Nutmeg, 1/2 grated; or 2 tsp powdered

Powdered or grated ginger, 1 tsp

Cloves, 6 whole

Cinnamon, 1 inch of stick

Sugar, 1 cup

Eggs, yolks 6; whites 3

Apples, 6 cored, but not pared

Mace, 1/4 tsp

Water

Sherry or Madeira, 2 qts

Take spices and cover with a cup of cold water.  Fetch to a boil; adding wine and sugar.  Let heat up…Meanwhile in the Wassail Bowl (Punchbowl) previously warmed:

Break in six yolks and three whites.  Beat up.  When wine is warm – not boiling – mix a teacupful with the egg.  When a little warmer, add another cupful, and repeat until five cups have been used…Now let the rest of the wine boil up well, and pour it into the bowl also, stirring well all the time, until it froths in attractive fashion…Fill cored apples with sugar, sprinkle on a little of the spice and roast until nearly done.  Time these to suit the end of the wine-pouring process.  Throw them into the bowl, and serve the whole thing very hot…Some stout hearts add a tumbler full of good cognac brandy to the whole – and we, after testing the business, heartily agree with them; since sherry of itself isn’t potent enough to make any Saxon defend his native land, much less a 20th Century wassailer, with all we have been through during one and a half decades that Saxons never even considered as drinkable fluid!

wassail_song_37b1

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