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New Spain Sherry Mezcal Cocktail

I fell in love with sherry the first time I went to Spain, but it’s something that slips my mind when I’m looking for something in the drink department. And Sherry, by Talia Baiocchi hoped to change that for me, and for lots of other people with her book, which has the best subtitle ever: “The wine world’s best-kept secret.” At that sums up a lot about how people see sherry.

People know about sherry, but tend to think of it as something you cook with, from a jug-like bottle, from California or elsewhere. And while there are sweet and dry sherries, in general, as Talia notes, “Sherries are some of the driest wines in the world.” Sherry is not only the wine world’s best-kept secret, but it’s one of the world’s best wines.

New Spain Sherry Mezcal Cocktail

It’s hard to understand the appeal of sherry until you go to Spain, where it’s consumed with tapas at bars. I love sherry and it’s not something that’s common to find in France nor have I ever seen it served. Interestingly, the French drink port. But as a before-dinner drink, rather than after. Sherry vinegar is popular and widely available (and great for salads), although finding sherry isn’t easy. So I’d like to raise a glass (or two) to making sherry more popular worldwide.

Sherry is a fortified wine, made from blending older sherries with newer ones. Unlike other wines, sherry is aged in casks in bodegas, which are above-ground. A layer of flor (yeast) naturally grows on the surface, which contributes flavors and nuances to almost all kinds of sherries. In order to be called sherry, it must be from Spain. I did a little reading and sherries made elsewhere, including California, can’t legally be exported to Europe, as the name is protected.

Pouring sherry in Spain

Sherry makes a seductive addition to cocktails because it adds an umami-like depth of flavor to them. The earthy, oaky notes goes really well with spirits, such as whiskey, bourbon, mezcal, and even gin.

But I also like to drink sherry as it is, a custom that’s particularly wonderful to do if you get a chance to visit Spain, where it’s often served right from the casks. A long cylindrical “scooper” is dipped into the sherry cask and the venenciador swings it up and pours it into a glass, sometimes without even looking!

Note that they make look easier than it is. I tried to swipe a glass of sherry from a cask at my host’s place in Spain when they weren’t around and made a mess all over the outside of the barrel trying to pour the sherry into my glass with that little cylinder. I can’t imagine doing it from any sort of distance.

In Sherry, Talia offers up this recipe for the New Spain, which may very well become my cocktail for the summer. The Rosemary Gimlet was my cocktail for the winter, mostly because Romain kept insisting that I make them again and again. But I think it’s time to shake things up a little around here.

New Spain Sherry Mezcal Cocktail

Talia gave me a super tip for making big, chunky ice cubes, the sort of fancy kind that don’t melt fast in your drink, and water it down. (Although I tend to drink fast, faster than ice melts.) You can buy ice cube trays to make those large cubes, but you can also freeze water in a loaf pan then remove it from the pan, envelop it in a clean kitchen towel, and whack it with a rolling pin. Open the towel and you’ll have big chunks of ice to use in your cocktails. Nifty, huh? She did say scoring it first would make them break into cubes, but I didn’t mind the iceberg-like floaters in my New Spain cocktails.

New Spain Sherry Mezcal Cocktail

I recently got a copy of Talia’s newest book, Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo, written with co-author Leslie Pariseau (Talia is also the editor for Punch, an award-winning website about cocktails and spirits that I recently wrote an article for), and I was wowed by a few of the spritz’s that I sampled from it. Like sherry, she’s on a mission to give the spritz a little more pr, too.

I’ll have to admit that I’m a bad blogger, and not in danger of winning any awards, because I didn’t get a nice shot of the cocktail glasses when they were frosty cold, and full of New Spains. Why not? Because we were too busy drinking them. However I guarantee that if you mix yourself up a few, you’ll have a hard time sitting back and admiring them, too.

Sherry mezcal cocktail

The New Spain

Adapted from Sherry: The Wine World’s Best-Kept Secret (Ten Speed Press) by Talia Baiocchi I’ve been enjoying stirring and shaking up some of the cocktails in this book, which also tells the history of sherry, how its made, why it’s so special, and explains the differences between the various types of sherry, from Fino to Moscatel. There are also some recipes for nibbles to go with sherry, to help you polish off the rest of the bottle : ) For this cocktail, Talia recommends an amontillado sherry, but any dry sherry would work fine.
  • One 1/2-inch (1cm) thick slice of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 ounce agave nectar
  • 3/4 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 ounces dry sherry
  • 1 ounce best-quality mezcal, such as Del Maguey Vida
  • One slice of lime and nutmeg, for garnish
  • Put the ginger, agave nectar, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker and muddle them together.
  • Add the sherry and mezcal and fill the shaker halfway with ice. Shake for 20 seconds.
  • Strain into an old-fashioned or on-the-rocks glass. Add a wheel of lime and grate a small dusting of nutmeg over the top.

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    • italiangirlcooks

    Another informative, interesting, entertaining post! I cook w/sherry but I will follow your lead and find me some Spain sherry.

    • Susan Walter

    Australia makes ‘sherry’ and so when World Expo came to Brisbane in the early 1980s, going to the Spanish pavilion was a real eye opener! When I lived in London I worked for an organisation that brought out the sherry on one Friday afternoon a month as a team bonding and networking technique. Now I live in central France I substitute Pineau de Charente, which also goes well with a bit of ice and lime.

      • Paul Huckett

      I live in Australia and our older sherry-like wines are fabulous . Given their current unpopular status, the base material used is older and older . I often serve a very dry version as an aperitif , instead of the ubiquitous sparkling wine . Worth noting is Australia doesn’t now use the term Sherry for its wine, rather the name Apera , or Solera . We don’t use the words champagne or port either in defference to the countries of origin. The original Spanish flora culture was brought to Australia in 1909 by Francois de Castella , a viticulturist whose name is still known in vineyards .

    • Bill Fuller

    I do not like my drinks diluted with ice cubes. I freeze fruit juices and other things in ice cube trays and use them in my drinks. I also like Pineau de Charente. I am a retired winemaker.

    • Snoop

    When you visit a sherry bodega and see how it’s made, you appreciate not only that it can be fantastic wine but also that it is amazingly good value for money given the amount of effort that goes into making it.

    Montilla-Moriles is an area that makes a similar wine but which is nowhere near as famous as sherry. I had a Montilla-Moriles amontillado a few years back. One of the most memorable drinks I’ve ever had.

    • Allegra Smith

    This makes me feel a thousand or so years old. At home both in South America and Spain, Sherry was always served before lunch or before dinner. Marcona almonds roasted with Pimenton de Oro, little dice of Queso Manchego and some olives from wherever they were, they were all incredibly good, was a ritual. If it was figs
    season, they were quickly broiled with a dusting of sugar and pepper as well.

    If someone showed unexpectedly at lunch these little bites would always served a dual purpose, one to feed them something until lunch and the second to buy some time to “extend” the plates to be served at lunch.

    Here in the States I have always served Lillet Blanc that way because it is easier to find that a good amontillado. “Salud, Amor y Pesetas y el tiempo para gastarlas” ( Good Health, Love and Money and the time to enjoy them) still is our favorite toast when serving Jerez.

    • Sarah

    This sounds heavenly. I, too, love sherry, and also first had it in Spain, sitting alone on a plaza in Jerez. I couldn’t get enough of it. I took a bodega tour at Lustau, just me and a friendly British couple, and after the 12-glass tasting, I was lucky I made it back to my hotel in one piece.

    I made the mistake of ordering a manzanilla (aka fino) in Barcelona. Since the city was far from the sherry region, the waiter looked at me quizzically and brought me a glass of steaming hot chamomile tea, manzanilla meaning chamomile. It was boiling hot outside. :D

    My problem (if you can call it a problem) is that none of my friends like sherry, which makes it hard for me to open a new bottle. It doesn’t go bad, necessarily, but the taste changes. I’m curious to know how long your sherry lasts!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      That sounds like when I ordered a Lillet in Paris and the waiter brought me a glass of milk (le lait) on a tray.
      I was always under the impression that once opened, a bottle of sherry would keep in the refrigerator for weeks – but when reading Talia’s book, and checking other sources, a week or so is considered about right. Sweeter sherries last longer than drier ones.

      • Connie

      Ha ha…love the story of manzanilla in Barcelona! Camomile indeed! Manzanilla is only appreciated in the south, and if you can get your hands on a bottle of Argüeso, all the better!

    • Samantha Gordon

    No David you are not a bad blogger. You are wonderful. There are thousands of food blogs out there and loving food and the written word the way I do I have seen most of them. The only one I read religiously is yours. Now I’m off to try and find some sherry…..

    • Annabel

    People know about sherry, but tend to think of it as something you cook with, from a jug-like bottle, from California or elsewhere.
    Huh? I don’t understand this at all, perhaps it’s an American thing. Here in Britain, sherry is very often served as a pre-lunch drink, and is widely available in both the cream and fino varieties. Both equally delicious – I tend not to serve it at home (although I do have plenty), as I don’t drink at lunchtime when at home, but am looking forward to it over the Easter weekend. I believe it was traditionally served with the soup course at dinner, and it is still often served as a pre-dinner drink, as well as pre-lunch.

    Here, alcoholics often drink “cheap cooking sherry”, so you can see how widespread it is.

    I like to use “cheap cooking sherry”, not to get drunk on, but to make chilli sherry, which is basically sherry infused with chilli peppers, very good in soups and stews!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Non-Spanish Sherry is sometimes sold in oversized bottles, for some reason. Cream sherry, according to that article in Wine Spectator, got its name in Bristol, England, a port where sherry arrived at. I think it’s pretty sweet, although I haven’t had it in a long time. (Actually I don’t know if I’ve ever had it.) Perhaps people in the U.S. drink it before lunch (or other meals…) but I’m not sure.

        • Annabel

        It is quite sweet, but actually I rather like it occasionally. Probably nicer chilled….

    • Taste of France

    My Spanish friends order it as “fino,” the way my French friends order “un jaune” (for a Ricard).
    I’ve never tasted sweet sherry, only dry.

    • Agneta

    Loved the idea about the ice chunks! Why didn’t I think of that:-)

    • jacqui

    An interesting project for Friday night! I often use Jimenez to drink with a chocolate dessert. Perfect together

    • Maria del mar

    Thanks David. I had no idea that sherry had such an interesting background. Olé! I agree that adding to certain cocktails is the best addition. I enjoy the oaky taste it gives.

    • Alexandra

    Please don’t call this a Spanish cocktail (even a new Spain is wrong!) it is actually more Mexican than anything else…and anyone can see that the other influences are more Asiatic than Spanish. The 2 ounces of sherry (Jerez) are the smallest part of this concoction.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I reviewed the list of ingredients in the cocktail and it seems that sherry is, indeed, the predominant ingredient in it. There are 2 ounces of sherry – twice as much as mezcal. She wrote a lovely book about sherry, the Spanish wine, which I agree could and should be more widely known. But I will forward your concerns to Talia about the name of this cocktail and let her know.

    • cjw

    Uh oh! I feel trouble ahead, in a good sort of way…… Thanks for “sherry-ing” (ok, bad, I know).

      • Alexandra

      No trouble at all, keep up the good work you do.

    • Andrew

    I made one of these tonight, shortly followed by a second. Really delicious mix of smoky, spicy, salty and sweet! Even though it’s not really summer yet here in Minneapolis it worked really well. Thanks for another great cocktail recipe!

    • Allyn

    Thanks for reminding me about the Rosemary Gimlets . . . they’re so very tasty! Must make up another batch of Rosemary simple syrup!

    • Kitty

    I’ve never gotten into sherry outside of using it in cooking. You’ve inspired me to give it a another try. Think I’ll start with this cocktail. Thanks!

    • Angela – Patisserie Makes Perfect

    I LOVE sherry, a few years ago I went to Cartagena and I had some of the most delicious jerez with our tapas.

    In that heat and with the jamon and salted almonds it’s just delicious and slices through the flavours and is so refreshing.

    • Olof B

    Hi David!

    Thanks for your wonderful blog. I have simple question: where did you buy those wonderful stout looking wine glasses.

    Best regards,


    • Amelie Moore

    This looks delicious! What a perfect drink to serve at brunch


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