Believe it or not, sherry is no longer relegated to simply being "your gran's choice of Christmas tipple". It's actually well on its way to becoming cool again …
Sherry has had a hipster makeover. In fact, it's the drink to be sipping on this summer.
Like aperol and campari before it, sherry has come back in vogue. So why have we had a change of heart?
Sherry has been made as a lightly fortified wine from white grapes grown near the town of Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, reportedly since 1100 BC. The Spaniards worked to perfect the art of sherry making until the 16th century when it was seen as the world’s finest wine.
Then Sir Francis Drake brought 3,000 barrels back to the UK in 1587, which started Great Britain’s love affair with the stuff. Shakespeare was even also a superfan and wrote about the booze in his works – though he called it "sack" – and referenced it in two of his Henry IV plays as fictional character Sir John Falstaff's favourite drink.
Fast forward to 1979, and in its peak there were 1,500,500 hl of sherry being exported from Spain each year. That's a lot of sherry.
While Spaniards have known it all along, sherry is suddenly cool again, especially in the UK. Why? Because we love tapas so much and the two are perfect together. Obviously.
Pepijn Vanden Abeele, manager at The Coburg Bar in Mayfair’s Connaught Hotel, says: “Sherry is definitely getting more popular. There are more bars opening that are purely sherry and tapas-based, so it looks like it’s a trend at the moment. In the last two years it seems like the old reputation for sherry has gone. In London's Shoreditch and Hoxton, young and hip people are sitting on a rooftop drinking sherry.”
Ahhh, the hipster rooftop bars of Dalston. That'll explain it.
Sherry has been revamped as a mixer, so cue the wonderful invention that is Pedrino. It’s a lightly sparkling sherry with tonic water and natural botanicals. As well as being a pretty decent thirst-quencher, it's also given bartenders a whole new world of cocktails to play around with – brilliant, more new drinks for us to try.
Co-founder of Pedrino, Joseph Knopfler, says: “We felt sherry was due a revival as it has had quite a bad rap recently and was seen as an old nan’s drink, but it’s actually got a load of versatility. Served in the right way, it’s a very refreshing drink. We didn’t think it deserved the reputation it'd got and we wanted to reinvent it.
“It should serve to shine a torch on sherry. We’ve seen a huge revival in aperol with the aperol spritz trend and now people are already serving our drink as a Pedrino spritzer.”
Here's what you need to know
Well, those Spaniards have actually been drinking the sherry sprit for almost as long as the sherry – guess they must have forgotten to tell us about it last time we were on holiday. Thanks, guys. Known as rebujito, it’s simply a mix of sherry and a soft drink, sort of like port and lemonade.
The one to try
Like the sherry spritz, Pedrino comes already pre-mixed and ready to drink over ice and a slice, but it’s also becoming popular served as a PGT: a Pedrino gin and tonic, which is a measure of your favourite gin topped with Pedrino. Aren't you fancy?
As for the other cocktails, there’s a whole load of them – montilla bulleit, Pedricano, black rogue, or our favourite, The Coburg's Pedrino rye fizz, which also uses a sherry reduction syrup for an extra hit of flavour.
What to eat with it
As Knopfler says: “Sherry has an intrinsic relationship with tapas." And he’s right – especially what with the wave of new Spanish restaurants opening up in London, like José Pizarro Broadgate or chef Omar Allibhoy’s Tapas Revolution. Both have a hefty selection of sherry to pair with the small bites meaning there's new love for this drink from the foodie crew, too.
Back at The Coburg Bar, they also plate up some pretty sweet tapas with glasses of sherry.
Vanden Abeele says: “What to eat it with depends on what sherry you’re drinking: sweet, medium or dry. [If it's] medium to dry, then cold meat, white fish, cod, pollack or a strong hearty fish work well. For a sweeter variety, then things like olives or tapenade as the salty flavour goes well with the sweet taste. It’s finding that balance between your drink and your food – it’s got that umami quality a little bit.”
In the name of research (ahem), we tried a rich-cured ham hock and foie gras croquette, which worked well with the sweetness of the drink, while the creamy hit of goats' cheese and beetroot on parmesan shortbread brought out the tangy flavours of the botanicals.
Lobster with truffle mayonnaise on brioche toast is possibly the most decadent way we can imagine serving the PGT with and, no surprise, it tastes great with the booze. As everything does, really.
We have a new fave. Cheers.