Cigars and alcohol. Two luxury products that go hand in hand, and sometimes even meet on business level. Aging tobacco in whisky, rum, or cognac barrels is a practice several brands do to achieve extra flavour to the wrapper for certain lines. The famous bourbon brand Maker’s Mark has their own cigar, sold in tubes with the signature wax coating. Drew Estate works with Pappy van Winkle and used to make Kahlua cigars. Mombacho used to have the Diplomatico series. General Cigars works with Sazerac, which resulted in Fireball cigars, Weller by Cohiba and collaborations with Buffalo Trace. And there is the Diesel Whisky Row, a collaboration with Rabbit Hole Distilleries. Fratello Cigars also sells craft beer. Most famous are probably the Cuban collaboration between Martell Cognac and Cohiba. Dominique London, the European retailer with more than 20 shops in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland and the Canary Islands takes it one step further. They bought a distillery in Wales and produce whisky, gin, rum, vodka and liquors.
Tio Pepe Palomino Fino
First of all, what is sherry? When I grew up, sherry was synonymous to middle-aged, middle class house wives who drank sherry all day to kill the boredom of their empty lives. But sherry is much more than that, although I never did explore Sherry in the past. I do love a fortified wine, but I usually stick to port and even port I don’t drink often. Sherry is a fortified wine with a long history from Southern Spain. It’s a high-alcohol wine made using the historic solera system (a barrel aging and blending system) and is produced in a variety of styles, from dry to sweet and light to intense. Most sherry exhibits nutty, dried fruit, and saline flavours. Often stereotyped as a cooking wine or a sweet dessert wine, the world of sherry is far more nuanced and varied, and many bottles pair extremely well with food.
Sherry is often miscast as a sticky sweet wine and lumped together with dessert wines like port. While there are sweet varieties of sherry, the majority are made in a dry style. Both wines are fortified, making them higher in alcohol, and they play well with food. A relatively dry, aged tawny port and an amontillado or sweet oloroso sherry have the most in common, although sherry will always have a drier, more savoury flavour profile.
Tio Pepe (Uncle Pepe) Palomino Fino is a dry sherry. The name gives that away as Fino is the driest of all sherries (with Pedro Ximenes on the other end of the spectrum) while Palomino is the grape that this sherry is made from. Tio Pepe is made by the Gonzalez family, who started making sherry in 1835 and nowadays the fifth generation of the family is running the business.
In a wine glass, this sherry looks pale, like hay or straw. The aroma is mineral, with some olive aromas too. The sherry is very dry, very very dry, quite acidic with the favour of grapes and green apples. I would try this with a cigar with vegetal or earthy notes.
I love a Jungle Bird, it’s one of the few ways I can actually drink Campari. The Italian bird is a riff on the Jungle Bird. This riff is created by a bartender with the name Francesco Amodeo. Instead of pineapple juice, the Italian Bird uses a bit of sherry and that takes the cocktail out of the tiki-style drinks into a more Italian style cocktail where the Campari plays a bigger role.
Now this cocktail has me confused. On the one hand, it is a riff on one of my favourite cocktails, the Jungle Bird. But looking at the recipe, it goes more towards a Negroni than a Jungle Bird. I don’t like a Negroni, and so far, I can only enjoy Campari in a jingle bird. The nose is pretty neutral, with just a little fruitiness. It is not as bitter as I thought, although the finish is. The honey syrup gives the cocktail a nice sweetness together with the rum. The sherry makes the mouthfeel of the cocktail dry while the Campari delivers bitterness and red fruit. The salt just enhances the flavours. There are some flavours that I find hard to describe. I would pair this with a cigar with a woody flavour, medium bodied. Maybe a Cohiba Robusto, if I can find them.
And now for the Italian Bird recipe:
1 ½ ounce or 45 ml of dark rum
¾ ounce or 22½ ml of Campari
½ ounce or 15ml of Tio Pepe Palomino Fino
½ ounce or 15ml of Honey syrup
1 pinch of salt
Garnish: Pineapple sage
Add all the liquids and the salt in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until well chilled, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with the pineapple sage.
This is a very old recipe, almost 200 years old, from an era without air-conditioning so people drank ice-cold drinks on hot days and the sherry cobbler was one of those drinks. To be honest, the best sherry type for this drink is an amontillado sherry instead of a fino. Amontillado is slightly stronger and a little less dry than a fino sherry, but hey, you gotta work with what you have and I have a fino sherry. There are many different recipes out there, as you can expect from a 200 year old cocktail. I’m using the version of Anders Erickson, a cocktail youtuber.
There is a clear orange aroma to this drink, with a slight mineral undertone from the sherry. But most of the aroma is muted due to the crushed ice. But wow, this is a strong tasting cocktail, dry, aromatic with orange and apples, quite sour too. Refreshing but not exactly up my alley. I would not recommend this cocktail with a cigar, but if you do, try something strong and earthy. Montecristo #2, EPC Pledge Prequel, that kind or work.
And now for the Sherry Cobbler recipe:
3 ounces or 90ml of Sherry
1 ounce or 30ml of Orange Curacao
1 orange wheel, quartered
put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 10 seconds, that will muddle the orange. Strain into a highball glass with crushed ice. Garnish with any seasonal fruit and some mint.
I am not a fan of spirit forward cocktails, and the Bamboo only has spirits. But since all spirits are relatively low in alcohol content, I’m willing to give this one a try. The bamboo is a cocktail with a history dating back to the 1900s and if it’s still around, it has to be good right?
Most of the nose comes from the garnish, from the lemon. The drink itself has the mineral aromas of the sherry, not much of the vermouth. There is a sourness I don’t like, with a mineral flavour, dry because of the vermouth and the dry sherry. Slightly bitter. I bet this is a good cocktail for those that like a Martini, but it’s not a good cocktail for me. I would pair this with something strong, something peppery to overpower the cocktail. Something from My Father Cigars, Espinosa or an Oliva series V. For the Cuban smokers, Bolivar Royal Corona or Partagas.
And now for the Bamboo recipe:
1½ ounce or 45ml of Tio Pepe Palomino Fino sherry
1½ ounce or 45ml of Dry vermouth
1 dash of Angostura bitters
1 dash of orange bitters
Garnish: Lemon twist
Add the dry sherry, dry vermouth, Angostura bitters and orange bitters into a mixing glass with cracked ice, and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a lemon twist.