Rebujito + sherry.
Sherry cocktails? Seriously? Isn’t that just for old ladies? Well apparently not, as sherry seems to be finding its way into many high-end cocktails these days. Is it because craft cocktailistas are always on the lookout for untried and interesting flavour combinations or is it because sherry can be had for four quid a bottle which can seriously boost your mark-up (I mean have you seen the price of moustache wax these days)? Who knows? Let’s investigate and see if we can find a not-too-pompous sherry drink along the way.
Sherry is a fortified wine from the very southern tip of Spain. It’s been struggling for a long time against the curve of drinking history as it has come to be viewed as something of a dinosaur. The Spanish themselves might not have lost faith in their beloved Jerez but to the rest of the world it was viewed as the drink of spinsters and stuffy retired British Colonels. Outside of Spain sherry’s rep has been damaged further by a degree of confusion over the many styles, a prevalence of the less good styles (aka cream sherries) and the misconception that sherry keeps forever once opened (it degrades pretty quickly). If you’ve ever tasted sherry the chances are high that it was both of inferior quality and horribly oxidised. But perhaps, while we were all busy re-discovering vermouth, resurrecting rye and dabbling with amari, Xeres was patiently waiting for its moment? To find out we need to try the good stuff – and drink it fresh. The good stuff is labelled as follows (light to intense): Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso. Anything else is likely to be loaded with sugar. If you do want to use a sweet sherry consider only Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry. Regarding freshness, we should notice that the Spanish consider their Jerez to be almost as perishable as white wine and store it accordingly. Use an unopened bottle within a year of purchase and once opened use a vacuum stopper and keep in the fridge for no more that two weeks – and the Spanish would probably say that’s pushing it.
A popular summer festival drink in southern Spain, the Rebujito usually just consists of cheap sherry mixed with a lemon-lime soda such as 7-Up or Sprite. However the use of higher quality ingredients takes the Rebujito to the next level. The sherry needs to be decent and above all dry. Fino or Manzanilla sherry are what you should be looking for here as other types are either too forceful or too sweet. Likewise using fresh lemon juice, syrup and soda, is, as always, a worthwhile upgrade. If that just leads us to a Sherry Collins there can surely be no harm in that? In any case the inherent nuttiness of sherry sets this quite apart from other members of the Collins family. The name seems to mean “tangled up” or “mixed up” which makes a certain sense but I like the (almost certainly incorrect) translation that Google Translate threw out: “rebuild”. This is a certainly drink that would rebuild your energy on a roasting day. As a friend said when I was telling him about this drink, “Those Spanish kids can turn any old shit into a decent drink”. He was referring to the Kalimotxo of the Basque country which is a equal parts mixture of cheap red wine and Coca-Cola. Actually it’s better than it sounds. Given sherry’s lack of longevity once opened, the Rebujito is best deployed as a spring or summer BBQ or picnic drink for a number of guests. Easily batched up to pitcher size, not too potent and refreshingly different the Rebujito will score you maximum brownie points with minimal effort. You can vary the sherry content between 2 and 3oz (60-90ml) per serving depending on the number you expect to be consumed but it is essential that you use a decent Fino or Manzanilla as the vague “Dry” label can hide all sorts of evils.
2-3oz / 60-90ml Fino sherry (or Manzanilla).
1oz / 30ml fresh lemon juice.
0.75oz / 22.5ml simple syrup (1:1).
Pour over ice in a tall glass. Top up with chilled soda water.
Garnish with a lemon slice. The addition of a few mint leaves is also perfectly pleasant.
Toast those crazy Spanish kids.