Amplified wines & cocktails

Cocktails with southern wines

Sherry, port, Madeira and Marsala bring character and body to the glass, in addition to a variety of flavors. A look at cocktail recipes from bartenders at home and abroad reveals even more ways to mix with fortified wines.

Even before Manhattan and Martini, port-based flips or cobblers with sherry or Madeira were the in-drinks of the still young United States. Compared to the original cocktail, which apart from a little (melted) water consisted almost only of distilled spirits, these sweet wine-based drinks were also suitable for those who wanted to get up the next morning without a headache.

It is obvious that southern wines have become part of the canon of classic cocktail culture. Barkeeper on the American continent, as well as their professional colleagues in the British Isles, mixed with those products that were available to them. And since these countries did not have their own wine production, they mixed with the shelf-stable wines from the south of Europe.

While sherry, for example, experienced a boom in the first half of the 19th century, it went downhill until the First World War. Phylloxera and political tensions between the U.S. and Spain certainly played a role; at the same time, Vermouth became the new darling of the bar scene. Southern wines then had a new peak in the decades after World War II.

Mixing with amplified wines

From simple Porto Tonic to Old Fashioned twists to elaborate Milk Punch variations, southern wines can be used in a wide variety of ways. White port and Tonic Water, an aperitif classic from Portugal, is an ideal Low-ABV drink, especially since it can be easily varied. For example, there is nothing to stop you from incorporating the sweetness and botanical notes with an herbal liqueur and using an unsweetened filler, such as soda.

But you can also play with the base. Instead of a white port, a rosé port, a fino or a manzanilla can also serve. Southern wines can often replace Vermouth one-to-one. Drier bottlings, for example, for martini, slightly sweeter wines for negroni twists. Dulces, Moscatel and Pedro Ximénez, on the other hand, tend to replace ingredients such as liqueur, syrup or sugar cubes with their sweetness.

Southern wine cocktails from bartenders

A look at the cocktail recipes sent to us by Barkeeper from Switzerland and abroad reveals even more possibilities for mixing with fortified wines. Rebekka Anna Salzmann's "Grape-Olive" cocktail looks more like Bamboo than Adonis.

Madeira replaces sherry, Byrrh the red vermouth. For the purpose of decoration, and at the same time responsible for half of the name, an olive crowns the composition. "Sherry, port and Madeira have a very high value with us and they are very often incorporated in our signature drinks," writes the bartender from Angels' Share.

Grape Olive | by Rebekka Anna Salzmann, Angel's Share, Basel

Cocktail grape olive
6 clMadeira Henriques & Henriques Special Dry Seco
2 clByrrh Grand Quinquina
2 DashesOrange Bitters

Decoration: olive, preparation: mixing glass, glass: Nick & Nora

One cocktail on the menu always has a lower alcohol content and is therefore often based on a southern wine. At the moment, however, this Low-ABV drink is sake-based. Southern wines can be combined with almost any flavor, especially grape-based ingredients such as cognac, armagnac, or verjus. Rebekka Anna Salzmann also recommends dry sherry with bourbon or rye and red port with mezcal.

Similar in name, but very different in the glass shows "Grape & Salicorne" by Silvan Hug.

Grape & Salicorne | by Silvan Hug, Capitol, Bern

Cocktail Grape & Salicorne
5 clBodegas Tradicion Fino Sherry
1 clIan Macleod's As we get it Islay Single Malt Whisky
1 clBourgoin Verjus
0,5 clSugar
5 clWater

Deco: Salicorne Pickles (make pickle brew. Pickle salicorne cold in cooled brew.)
Preparation: Pour all ingredients into a bottle and chill to at least three degrees. Once at temperature, carbonate and serve in a highball glass with ice.

The Barkeeper from Capitol Berne combines a dry sherry with Islay whisky and verjus, and carbonates the mixture, diluted with water and chilled, into a highball. Marsala is hard to find. Barkeeper Those who mix with it, even harder.

The Laurus Cocktail Experience is not in Sicily, but in Lecce, Puglia. Nevertheless, Marsala could still almost be called a local ingredient.

The Barkeeper Marco Fabbiano created the drink for a larger event where Marsala was available for tasting along with local wines. "We like to mix with Marsala. It's a wine that gives a drink elegance, mouthfeel and sweetness - and some spicyness." At the same time, Marco Fabbiano assures that they definitely have guests who drink Marsala neat.

Love Story | by Mario Fabbiano, Laurus Cocktail Experience, Lecce (I)

Cocktail Love Story
4 clMatusalem 23y
3 clMarsala Pellegrino Vergine
0,5 clBalsamic Tonka Bean Reduction
1 clChestnut honey
2 DahesAmaretto Adriatico Roasted

Deco: Lacto-fermented almond
Preparation: Stir ingredients in a mixing glass until cold. Serve on a block of ice in a tumbler.

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