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Cheers: Sherry

Imbibers are falling (back) in love with fortified wine—Alexis Korman finds out where to score sips of the cocktail world’s most au courant sherry concoctions.

Produced in Spain’s Andalucía region, sherry has been around for centuries (it supposedly accompanied Christopher Columbus on his voyage to the New World). But you don’t have to go to Spain to find it: Bars around the world are embracing the fortified wine, discovering a wide range of styles—from the nutty, salty fino to the richer, darker oloroso—that make for stellar aperitifs, food-pairing partners and cocktail components. Here’s where to find sherry tipples, no matter where your travels take you.

Mockingbird Hill (Washington, D.C.)
It’s fitting that the nation’s capital would play host to one of North America’s most outstanding sherry bars. With nearly 80 sherries on the expansive menu and nine sherry cocktails to choose from, there’s no doubt that Mockingbird Hill is the mecca for sherry outside of Spain. Those new to the category will appreciate the wide variety of sherries available for less than $10 per glass, along with various flights based around themes that help imbibers learn about the regions, styles and components of sherry.

Fino (London, England)
More than 21 sherries are available by the glass and 23 by the bottle at this contemporary temple to Spanish tapas, where the Basque-born chef turns out authentic dishes, like potato and chorizo chips and morcilla Ibérica (blood sausage with quail eggs), along with a handful of sherry-spiked cocktails to enjoy at the cozy bar. The Sherry Mojito and the Sherry Maria (a Bloody Mary variation made with sherry, tequila, basil and olives), are worth a taste, but don’t miss a sip of La Hermosa, a brilliant mix of rum, Cointreau and La Gitana manzanilla sherry, with a hint of almond liqueur.

PX (Alexandria, Virginia)
Todd Thrasher could be credited as one of the originators of the speakeasy bar trend—his bar, PX, located above Eamonn’s: A Dublin Chipper on King Street in romantic Old Town Alexandria, is known only by a blue light. (Hint: You’ll want to make reservations, and you’ll need to knock to gain entrance.) Decorated with vintage barware, the 1920s-style lounge serves pre-Prohibition-style libations in an elegant, throwback atmosphere. Here, more than four delicious sherry-based drinks make the cocktail list, including the eponymous PX, made with Cardenal Mendoza Palo Cortado and orange bitters.

Manzanilla (New York City)
This Manhattan restaurant specializing in Spanish cuisine boasts 18 to 20 sherries by the glass—but don’t miss its two stellar sherry cocktails: The Manzanilla Martini, which is made with manzanilla sherry, Double Cross vodka, Dolin vermouth blanc and green olive/blue cheese spheres; and the Cracklin’ Rosie, a heady mix of cognac, Domaine de Canton, amontillado sherry and lemon.

stadio (Washington, D.C.)
At this boisterous tapas bar, sherry lovers will find ten varieties to sip by the glass, along with a rotating selection of three or four sherry cocktails. Not to be outshone by the bar, Estadio’s kitchen also incorporates copious amounts of sherry into its cuisine: Executive Chef Haidar Karoum’s creative take on Spanish cooking includes items such as a sherry-glazed halibut and even a sherry float for dessert.

Making the Trek to Spain?
OK, you don’t have to go to Spain to sample some of the best sherries on offer, but super fans would be wise to make the pilgrimage. The three towns of Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda form a trifecta for indulging in the region’s specialty, and each locale is filled with tiny, dusty, auténtico bars that feature sherry (along with regional tapas, in many cases). If your travels take you to Sanlúcar, don’t miss a stop at Taberna der Guerrita: The tavern specializes in manzanilla, with pours straight from the barrel. 

Author: Alexis Korman
Courtesy: Premier Traveler

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