Episode 052 - Sherry

Episode 052 Sherry.jpg

What’s shakin cocktail fans?

Welcome back to another episode of the Modern Bar Cart Podcast!

This week, we chat with DC bartender Chantal Tseng (@ShinobiPaws) to learn all about the strange and wonderful world of sherry and sherry cocktails.

Chantal Tseng, Photo credit: Scott Suchman

Chantal Tseng, Photo credit: Scott Suchman

During this really fun discussion with Chantal Tseng, some of the things we cover include:

  • The popular types of sherry, and what sets them apart from one another
  • The production methods and terroir unique to the sherry producing communities in southern Spain
  • Sherry vocab terms en espanol, as well as a quick crash course in the shorthand that sherry producers and blenders write on their barrels
  • The best Sherry cocktails to serve at your next gathering or cocktail party
  • Why you might want to grab a drink with Edgar Allan Poe
  • And much, much more.

Chantal is an amazing host and mixologist, so I really do hope that some of you make a pilgrimage to the Petworth Citizen & Reading Room (@PetworthCitizen)here in Washington, DC, where we recorded this episode and pull up a seat for her “Literary Cocktails” series, which takes place from 7:00pm to Midnight every Friday and Saturday in the Reading Room.

Featured Cocktail: The Bamboo Cocktail

This week’s featured cocktail is the Bamboo cocktail, and this is a drink that we talk about at length later on in the episode.

Now, if you recall our vermouth interview with Kat Hamidi of Capitoline Vermouth, we spoke about one of her favorite cocktails, which was called the Adonis, which also contains both vermouth and sherry.

The difference between the Adonis and the Bamboo is basically the difference between a Manhattan and a Martini - and what I mean by this is that Manhattans tend to be dark, rich, and sweet, while Martinis tend to be dry and refreshing, even though both drinks follow a similar measurement paradigm when it comes to ingredient ratios.

Bamboo Cocktail.jpg

To make the Bamboo cocktail, you’ll need:

  • 1.5 oz Fino (dry) sherry
  • 1.5 oz dry vermouth
  • Several Dashes of orange bitters

To prepare the drink, you combine these ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, stir until well mixed and chilled, strain into a stemmed cocktail glass, and garnish with a nice orange twist.

Show Notes

Sherry is a type of fortified wine. This means that people take a grape base and then ferment it so that it reaches a certain ABV. Different sherry styles are the result of decisions made by the producer when it comes to aging, adding additional alcohol, or blending different bases.

For all dry sherries, the grape varietal used is a Palomino Fino, and for the dessert styles, Muscatel and Pedro Ximenez (PX) grapes are used.

Popular Sherry Styles

The solera system

The solera system

  • Fino - a dry, refreshing style of sherry made under flor and not allowed to oxidize
  • Manzanilla - made in the style of Fino, but produced only in the town of Sanlucar de Barrameda
  • Amontillado - A Fino-style sherry that is then allowed to oxidize, creating a nuttier, darker flavor profile. 
  • Oloroso - A sweeter, richer style of sherry allowed to oxidize sooner (and for longer) than Amontillado.
  • Palo Cortado - A style of sherry that originally begins its life as a Fino or an Amontillado, but that loses its flor. At this point, oxidation occurs, and it turn
  • Sweet or Cream Sherry - When an Oloroso or Amontillado sherry is sweetened with a Pedro Ximenez or Muscatel wine, creating a richer dessert-style beverage. 

Sherry Vocab Terms

A venenciador

A venenciador

  • The Solera System - A fractional blending system that all sherry must go through before being bottled. The wine is constantly being blended, which creates a non-blended style of wine.
  • Flor - The localized assortment of yeasts that live in the wine. In Finos and Manzanillas, the flor creates a crust on the wine as it feeds off of the sugar, preventing the wine from oxidizing and adding aromatic components.
  • Venencia/Venenciador - A venencia is a long wand with a cup at the end. You push this device through the flor to sample the sherry, and it closes the flor back up when it is extracted. A Venenciador is a person who pours sherry from one of these wands, aerating it as it's poured into the sampling glass.
  • Criadera - "Nursery" in Spanish, referring to the sleeping sherry barrels in the solera system.

Sherry Cocktails

The Adonis

  • 2 oz Amontillado or Oloroso Sherry
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • Orange or Aromatic Bitters to Taste

Stir these ingredients over ice, strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with an expressed orange twist.

Sherry Cobbler

A Cobbler is any cocktail where you sweeten a spirit and serve it over crushed ice with seasonal fruit and/or mint.

  • 3-4 oz Sherry
  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
  • Seasonal Fruit to taste

Muddle some fruit in the bottom of a shaker, add your ice, sherry, and simple syrup, shake well, and serve over crushed ice with more fruit as a garnish.

Lightning Round

Favorite Cocktail

A dry martini, a trinity, or a jungle. These are all cousins of the martini and the negroni.

If You Were a Cocktail Tool or Ingredient, What Would you Be?

I'd like to think that I'm the mixing glass because all sorts of different things go in, but it always comes out in a different form that is delicious.

Cocktail with Anyone, Past or Present

Literary figures like Edgar Allan Poe or JK Rowling, and or even a contemporary author like Hanya Yanagihara (author of A Little Life).

Influential Sherry Books

Advice for New Sherry Fans

Food is always the best way to first encounter sherry. All sherry is wine at the end of the day, and what goes well with wine? Snacks, olives, cheese. What's wonderful about sherry is that it's extremely food pairing friendly.

CC Attributions

Featured Cocktail Background Music

Backbay Lounge Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/