Savvy bartenders are always looking for that extra element that will put a twist on classic cocktails or add interest to newly-created concoctions. Many of them have been using sherry in their recipes for a long time — take a look at any cocktail list and, chances are, you’ll see Spain’s most unique wine as a key ingredient.
Lucas Payà, former sommelier at Spain’s legendary elBulli restaurant and now U.S. Brand Educator for award-winning sherry producer Lustau says, “The great diversity of flavors and styles of sherry offers a world of possibilities to bartenders and mixologists.” (Read more on sherry in my interview with Payà on Grape Collective).
One of Payà’s favorite cocktails is an easy-to-prepare Bloody Mary made with fino sherry, a low-alcohol alternative to the classic vodka-based Bloody Mary. The salty, savory qualities of sherry add a subtle, umami-like element to the cocktail. Payà told me that it’s a perfect drink for many occasions: “apéritif, brunch, lunch, late-afternoon, by the swimming pool, and on an airplane headed to your favorite vacation destination.”
Fino Bloody Mary
In addition to the fino, I like to add a little gin to my bloody marys, but either way, the drink is delightful!
Makes 2 drinks
4 ounces fino or manzanilla sherry
2-3 ounces vodka or gin (for those days when a bigger kick of alcohol is in order)
2 cups tomato juice
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco hot sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grated horseradish
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
2/3 cup peeled, seeded, chopped cucumber, optional (Adds a slight cucumber flavor and thickens the texture)
1 - 2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 pinches of ground pepper
2 Celery sticks
2 lemon wedges
1) In a large bowl or container, combine sherry, vodka or gin, if using, tomato juice, lemon juice, vinegar, Tabasco, Worcestershire, horseradish, celery salt, celery seed, and if using, cucumber and garlic. Note: if using cucumber, you will need to put the ingredients in a blender and mix until well combined. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.
2) Pour the Bloody Mary into 8 ice-filled glasses. Garnish with ground pepper, celery stick and lemon wedge. Note: If you don’t have time to wait 2 hours, you may pour it directly over ice, stir, and serve immediately.