The very berry sherry cobbler. It's summer's perfect sip. And the day drinker's delight.
It's a real thirst quencher in the heat, loves fresh summer berries, and is lowish in alcohol...so you can hit it strong over the course of a long afternoon without toppling over into the pool. Plus, it has a cool backstory.
This is not a history lesson. But there are a couple things you'll want to know straight away. As cocktails go, the sherry cobbler is one of the originals. It dates way back to the early 1800s. But it's fascinating for two related reasons:
1. It owes its existence to the birth of the frozen water trade.
2. It popularized drinking out of a straw.
Think about it. You can't really have a cocktail without ice. And in the early 1800s, you can't have ice without a "frozen water trade."
And the sherry cobbler is so much about the ice. The key to a great sherry cobbler is, in fact, the cobbles (i.e., the ice), a serious luxury back in the early 1800s. Mark Twain said this: "Ice was jewelry; none but the rich could wear it."
So today, when we can top off a Big Gulp with mounds of glittering frozen diamonds for essentially nothing, we should count ourselves lucky.
To cobble your ice, shove chunks of ice into a bag or towel (I use big globes and a Lewis bag), and pound the ice with a wooden mallet into small, gravel-size bits. Or try pulverizing your ice in a food processor. The point is to arrive at something like this:
Another key is the straw. Beard-wearing hipsters of today take note. Your beard-wearing hipster relatives of yesterday did not wish to pull away from their chilly tipple looking like they'd just been stranded on Franklin's lost Arctic expedition, with a furry face full of cobbles. Hence the straw.
Yet a third key is the fruit. No doubt, the sherry cobbler is the cocktail for fresh berry season. Definitely. But really, that's only the half of it. Because the key to the keys of the sherry cobbler is its amazing versatility. It loves whatever fruit you can throw at it. Berries are its first love, yes. But toss in a few chunks of pineapple. Or an apple, for that matter. If no oranges are around, slice a lemon. Or try both. Or go with just the peel(s). The sherry cobbler loves to love you, baby.
Also, play around with the sweet element. The syrup from a jar of maraschino cherries? Do it! Try all kinds of sugary syrups. While you're at it, why not toss in some Angostura bitters for a little counterpoint? Do what you will. Do what you must.
As for the booze, try a drier style of sherry, like a Fino or Amontillado. The amontillado has a wonderful nutty character. The fino is very dry and a touch tangy. Both are excellent. And when I can't decide between the two, I am forced to make both, and then I'm doubly thankful that sherry's alcohol content is only about 18 percent.
Here's what you'll need to make a sherry cobbler. (Technically, you don't need the maraschino cherries, but I was using the syrup instead of sugar. So the jar made the photo. Stupidly, though, I forgot to drop a couple cherries into the drink. Please don't make that mistake.)
OK, let's make this thing. Starting with a basic Sherry Cobbler recipe, play around with it as you like. Shake it up, pour it over cobbled ice, top with fresh fruit, and sip it like a Chuzzlewit. Cheers!