Once upon a time, sherry was the coolest kid on the block. Everyone wanted to be around her, soaking up her seductive singularities, elegance and quirky charm. She was one of a kind and in demand – the life of every 19th-century cocktail party and roaring barroom.
But then she fell out with the in crowd. Once the star of classic cocktails from cobblers to punches, flips and possets, sherry suddenly woke up abandoned and weathered on a dusty shelf with over half a century’s hangover. Her shove from grace had much to do with that old hag circumstance, who blighted most of Andalusia’s vines with phylloxera in the late 1800s and reduced trade with some of the famous Spanish wine’s most enthusiastic markets.
But everything old doesn’t stay outdated. Slowly but steadily, sherry is reclaiming street cred as an aperitif, food pairing and cocktail ingredient.
Its range of infectiously delicious styles, incredible complexity and insane value are establishing fino (and related manzanilla), amontillado, oloroso and pedro ximenez wines on Toronto cocktail lists.
Cozy up to Chanel Wood’s bar at Rasa (196 Robert, 647-350-8221, rasabar.ca) for a few Texas Guinans (Pedro Ximenez sherry, bourbon, Amaro Sibilla, green Chartreuse and cardamom bitters, $15).
It’s pretty much impossible for me to visit Geraldine (1564 Queen West, 647-352-8815, geraldinetoronto.com) without having at least one of bar manager Michael Mooney’s super-tasty Mayflowers (fino sherry, silver rum, apricot liqueur and Peychaud’s bitters, $11).
The P.X. I Love You at Rush Lane (563 Queen West, 416-551-7540, rushlaneco.com), an intricate mix of amontillado sherry, cachaça, umeshu (Japa-nese plum liqueur), Aperitivo marmalade and lemon, $13, has all the lip-smacking attributes of dessert without being too sweet.