Let’s Get Blitzen: Cocktail Advent Calendar – Day 10 – Fireside Bourbon. This cocktail is somewhat reminiscent of the Little Drummer Boy from past years of the advent calendar but with different base spirits.
Up until recently, sherry was all but a relic of the wine world – often forgotten, staid, the domain of octogenarians in the south of Spain. But in the last few years, this varied style of fortified wine from Andalucia has been experiencing a renaissance – in part thanks to its inclusion in cocktail recipes.
Sherries are aged in a unique system called the solera, where barrels of fortified wines sit at ambient temperatures for years. Portions of the wine are removed from the oldest barrels for bottling, with new stocks added to keep the solera going.
There are six different styles of sherry: fino, manzanilla, amontillado, oloroso, palo cortado, and cream or Pedro Ximenez. I’ve listed them here in order from driest to sweetest. Depending on the style and the winemaker, sherry can have a nutty or briny flavour which makes it very interesting for applications in mixology.
In the Fireside Bourbon I’ve opted for an amontillado sherry which delivers oxidized notes of nuttiness, sautéed mushrooms and an umami richness.
It works beautifully alongside the sweet corn mash of the bourbon, the spicy sweet intensity of the ginger liqueur and the tart orange juice.
Aside from the sherry, the real star of this show is the brûléed orange slice garnish. A light dusting of sugar and a couple minutes on a searing hot cast iron pan give you a candied crust for a show-stopping finish. You could get the same effect using a kitchen torch, if you have one!
- 1 thin slice of medium navel orange
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1½ oz bourbon
- ½ oz amontillado sherry
- ¾ oz ginger liqueur
- 1 ½ oz freshly squeezed orange juice
Coat one side of the orange slice with sugar. Heat a small, cast iron skillet on high. Place the orange slice, sugar-side down, in the skillet and sear for 1-2 minutes until caramelized. Remove from pan and let cool, browned side up.
Combine remaining ingredients in a mixing glass and stir over ice until chilled. Strain into a double rocks glass over one large ice cube. Place the orange slice, caramelized side up, on top of the ice cube.