Cocktails for Five Sherry Styles
A simple pour of Sherry can be an ideal nightcap. But it’s also versatile enough to mix into cocktails, which is exactly what bartenders are doing.
Much like selecting the right type of Sherry to pair with food, it also matters with cocktails, from light, crisp fino to the robust, almost toffee-like sweetness of Pedro Ximénez. Here’s a quick guide to the wide range of cocktail-friendly Sherry styles, with recipes from top bartenders.
Jump Straight to a Recipe
Jim Kearns, beverage director, ACME, New York City
Fino is the driest, most saline style of Sherry. It’s made from high-acid Palomino grapes and aged under a blanket of yeast called flor, which protects the wine from oxidation. Fino is best well-chilled, and it especially shines in martini-style cocktails.
- 2 ounces fino Sherry
- 1 ounces Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin
- 2 dashes celery bitters
- 1 olive (for garnish)
Combine all ingredients, except garnish, in mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled. Strain into Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with olive on cocktail pick.
Juyoung Kang, lead bartender, The Dorsey The Venetian, Las Vegas
Bone-dry, flinty and light, Manzanilla Sherries are very similar to fino, but the difference is where it’s made: the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. This Negroni variation swaps in Manzanilla as a lower-alcohol alternative to crisp gin.
- ½ ounce absinthe
- 1½ ounces Manzanilla Sherry
- ¾ ounce Amaro Montenegro
- ¾ ounce Bruto Americano
- Lemon peel (for garnish)
Pour absinthe into rocks glass, and swirl to coat inside of glass. Pour out excess absinthe and set aside. In mixing glass, combine next three ingredients with ice. Stir well to chill, then strain into prepared rocks glass over large ice cube. Garnish with lemon peel.
Patrick Halloran, bar manager, Henrietta Red, Nashville
Amontillados take on a brown hue, due to extended contact with air inside the solera barrels. Compared to the crisp, saline flavors of finos and Manzanillas, amontillados deliver oxidized, nutty, umami-rich notes. It’s a popular choice for cocktails, since it’s nutty but not particularly sweet. That makes it a versatile foil for darker spirits like whiskey or aged rum.
- 1 ½ ounces rye whiskey
- 1 ounce amontillado Sherry
- ½ ounce orange liqueur, like Combier
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Orange peel (for garnish)
In mixing glass, stir together all ingredients, except garnish, with ice. Strain into coupe glass. Garnish with orange peel.
Matt Piacenti, owner, Up & Up, New York City
While amontillado is a Sherry where the flor breaks up naturally, rich oloroso is made through intentional exposure to air. The cellar master destroys the flor to promote that oxidation. An oloroso’s style depends on whether the wine includes Moscatel (sweet) grapes, or is made strictly from Palomino grapes (dry). In general, they’re complex and may hint at subtle nutty or dried fruit aromas or flavors, like figs or dates. Try it in a cobbler-style cocktail, an early American drink that mixes spirit, sugar, crushed ice and fruit.
- 1 lime wedge
- 2 ounces oloroso Sherry
- ½ ounce Cruzan blackstrap rum
- ¼ ounce Smith + Cross overproof rum
- ½ ounce lime juice
- ½ ounce Demerara syrup (recipe below)
- Lemon wheel (for garnish)
Muddle lime wedge in bottom of cocktail shaker. Add remaining ingredients and 2 tablespoons pebble ice or crushed ice to shaker. Shake well, then pour out into Collins glass over fresh pebble ice or crushed ice. Use spoon to hold back lime wedge. Garnish with lemon wheel. Serve with a straw.
- 2 cups Demerara sugar
- 1 cup water
In small saucepan over medium heat, stir together sugar and water until sugar dissolves. Bring water to boil, then cool to room temperature. Pour into container and cover tightly. Keeps for up to 2 weeks in refrigerator.
Lynn Falk, head of cocktail program, Morcilla, Pittsburgh
Sweet Sherries come in a multitude of forms and quality levels, Pedro Ximénez (or “PX Sherry”) has a deep, dark hue, a raisin-like sweetness, and viscous consistency some liken to maple syrup. Bartenders love it because it adds dried fruit sweetness and viscosity to cocktails. It can also stand up to more robust textures, like egg whites, and assertive flavors.
This recipe calls for orgeat syrup, if you don’t want to buy it, here’s how to make it yourself.
- 1 ½ ounces Pedro Ximénez sherry
- ½ ounce aged rum
- ¼ ounce orgeat [almond syrup]
- 1 egg white
- Pimentón dulce (sweet smoked paprika) (for garnish)
In cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients, except garnish, without ice. Shake well to emulsify egg whites, about 1 minute. Scoop in ice and shake again briefly to chill. Strain into coupe glass. Dust pimentón dulce atop drink to garnish.
- 1Julia Child Sherry Cocktail
- 2Hat Trick Sherry Cocktail
- 3Up-to-Date Sherry Cocktail
- 4Colony Cobbler Sherry Cocktail
- 5Dulce de Jerez Sherry Cocktail