This is my first contribution to Mixology Monday. For those of you not familiar, it is a weekly gathering, so to speak, of cocktail bloggers working on a similar theme. This week’s theme comes from Jordan Devereaux of Chemistry of the Cocktail and focuses on fortified wines.
I’m excited to participate in this, mainly because I’m a big Sherry drinker. I really enjoy all types of Sherry, as I find myself going from drier Amontillados to sweeter PX varieties depending on my mood. My favorite sherry for making cocktails is Dry Sack Sherry, a relatively dry Amontillado variation.
Dry Sack is made in the traditional Solera method. The Solera method was created, in part, as a way to bring consistency to a somewhat inconsistent product due to the natural variations in weather, barrels, aging and general wine making techniques. The basis of the system is as follows:
- Barrels are stacked on top of each other and fortified wine (or spirits, beer, etc) are added to the top barrel.
- After a certain aging interval, usually a year, a portion of the liquid is moved down one barrel while a portion stays in the upper barrel.
- The top barrel is then refilled with new, young liquid. After the next interval, the same thing happens and everything is moved down one barrel.
- Once the liquid reaches the bottom barrel, a portion is removed and bottled. No barrel is ever drained completely, so the benefit of the older aged liquid is consistently contributing to the finished product. Every final variation is a blend of multiple years, often as old as twenty years.
It really is a fascinating way to age a spirit and the final product ends up with great complexity and depth. It helps overcome inconsistent vintages, allows for similar final products year after year, and is just pretty damn cool.
Let’s get to the cocktail. This cocktail is a delicious play on a Manhattan that I call “The Big Bang”. It uses Dry Sack Sherry as the base liquor, complimented by a little bit of sweet vermouth and a substantial amount of Cynar – a bitter, Italian Amaro. Cynar has major vegetal and herbal notes along with great depth. It’s fantastic. The kickers in this cocktail are a dash of Aztec Chocolate bitters and a lemon twist. The combination of sherry, Cynar and chocolate is shocking, while the bright notes from the lemon liven everything up. This is a cocktail with major depth and complexity.
The Big Bang
2 oz Dry Sack Sherry
3/4 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Carpano Antica
1 Dash Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
Lemon Twist for Garnish
Combine all ingredients in a glass and stir to combine. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a lemon twist.