If you’re still thinking of sherry and vermouth as drinks for your grandmother or Niles and Frasier Crane, get your head out of your bubblegum vodka. Fortified wine cocktails are fully en vogue, with some bars hosting special events around the ingredient or devoting a page or more to them on their beverage lists.
Square 1682 has led the trend in Philly, slotting these cocktails into their seasonal rotation. Head bartender Chauncey Scates says fortified wines – defined as those with (usually grape-based) distillate added to boost the alcohol content and shelf life – are gaining in popularity in part because they pair so well with food.
“It’s like pairing with wine but with all of those additional ingredients in the cocktail,” she says. “And our chef does a lot of lighter fare like fish and veggies, so I wanted to bring in fortified wines as a big part of our program because they’re not as heavy as some other spirits.”
Fortified wines sat neglected for years on the back shelves of bars, often turning off drinkers when they were improperly served old and unrefrigerated. But with classic cocktails like martinis and Manhattans regaining traction at the modern drinkery, bartenders and drinkers are rediscovering classic bases like port, sherry and vermouth.
“People are discovering how vast the world of fortified wines is,” Scates says.
Look for these three fortified wine cocktails at Square 1692 this spring.
CLASSIC SHERRY COBBLER
Equal Parts Fino and Amontillado Sherry (about 1.5 ounces of each)
¼ ounce Sugar in the Raw
2 Muddled Orange slice
Muddle Orange Slices and sugar in rocks glass, Add Fino and Amontillado Sherry, Top with Crushed Ice, Garnish with berries and Orange twist.
PINK ON PINK
1.5oz Stolichanaya Vodka
.75oz Lillet Rose
.5oz Pomegranate Molasses
.75oz Lemon Juice
2 Dash Peychaud’s
Shake: Served up in chilled coupe, Lemon Twist Garnish
1.5oz Graham’s 6 Grape ruby Port
.5oz fresh espresso
.5oz cinnamon syrup
Shake: Serve Up in Coupe: No Garnish
Square 1682 [f8b8z]