Spring is here! Which means moving away from winter drinks – heavy dark drinks or hot toddies or sparkling bubblies – into spring cocktails. This is a time for lighter, crispy drinks with more fresh fruit to fit the changing season. And there’s really none more perfect for spring than the Sherry Cobbler, one of America’s most venerable (but forgotten) low-proof cocktails. – Andrew
Illustration by Shauna Lynn for Oh So Beautiful Paper
The Sherry Cobbler
2 oz Dry Sherry
1/2 oz Dry Curaçao
1 tsp Demerara Syrup
Fresh Berries and Orange
Toss a handful of fresh berries and a slice of orange into a cocktail shaker and muddle them together. (We used blueberries and a Cara Cara orange, which really does live up to its hype.) Add the sherry, curaçao, and syrup, then fill the shaker two-thirds full with ice. Shake and fine strain into a glass filled with fresh crushed ice. Garnish with more fresh fruit and enjoy!
The result is a sweet, fresh, lightly mellow drink that’s also full of fresh fruit. I can think of no better way to get your Vitamin C…
That “fine strain” part is important here. That means using a strainer spoon with an extra-fine coil, like the Koriko strainer, or pouring through a tea strainer held above your glass. Otherwise, you’re going to end up with a lot of fruit pulp in your glass and a thick, gloppy drink. The Demerara syrup is easy: it’s just equal parts Turbinado or raw sugar and water, melted together over low heat. It’s a much darker and richer simple syrup than you’d get from white table sugar. The original recipe used fine powdered sugar, but I think this adds more robust and complex flavor.
You’ll want to use a drier sherry and Amontillado really is best here. Sweeter sherries will end up too cloying from the added sugar while more savory sherries – Fino or Palo Cortado and the like – can be a bit too pungent. Amontillado is dry and robust enough to stand up to the sugar but also has a mellow nuttiness that matches well with the fruit.
Ok, so the dry curaçao is definitely not original to the drink, which dates all the way back to the early 1800s and consisted just of sherry, sugar, and fruit. But dry curaçao is a period-appropriate ingredient, an orange liqueur without as much sweetness as modern triple secs, that has recently been resurrected after disappearing for years. It can add a layer of of complexity to what would otherwise be a pretty simple and straightforward drink like the sherry cobbler. (It also makes a fantastic addition to Tiki drinks.) Feel free to discard it from the recipe. Or, better yet, make one with and one without and then you’ll have two sherry cobblers to test…
There’s a line from a letter to the editor of The Southern Literary Messenger from 1839 (!) that has stuck with me since I read it a few years ago: the writer, from Baltimore, calls the sherry cobbler “the greatest ‘liquorary’ invention of the day.” That’s a pretty awesome endorsement. (It’s also where I got the name for our Etsy shop and Instagram feed, so I’m doubly-indebted to that anonymous poet.)
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper