The theme for this week’s food and drinks pages was ‘restorative’ and as Lady Luck would have it, I’d just been experimenting with a veritable balm of a beverage for our forthcoming ‘Smallest Cocktail Bar in Sussex’, (watch this space, folks) – one of the very first cocktails on record, the unjustly forgotten Sherry Cobbler.

As a radical re-imagining of what an alcoholic beverage could be, our Victorian forbears were fascinated by the stuff. Dickens waxes lyrical about it in Martin Chuzzlewit. “Martin took the glass with an astonished look; applied his lips to the reed; and cast up his eyes once in ecstasy. He paused no more until the goblet was drained to the last drop. ‘This wonderful invention, sir,’ said Mark, tenderly patting the empty glass, ‘is called a cobbler. Sherry Cobbler when you name it long; cobbler, when you name it short.’”

As an ancestor of the modern cocktail, we have a lot to thank it for. It was one of the first drinks to use lots of ice (then a posh luxury), and the craze for it produced not only the modern cocktail shaker, but also even the straw! Initially (like Dickens above), people used a reed to suck up the liqueur under the all the ice, and this subsequently developed as you can imagine.

The straw also got through the garnish of seasonal berries and mint leaves that give the drink its distinctive good looks. It’s as simple as it is refreshing really: a generous helping of high quality, bone dry, dark, nutty sherry (Amontillado being the classic choice, but we’ve decided we like the slightly finer Palo Cortado, which blends beautifully with the fruit flavours), shaken with sugar, orange and ice, then poured over lots more ice, and garnished with raspberries, strawberries, or whatever berries are to hand (there’s no set rule here), more orange slices, and a few sprigs of mint. As refreshing as a slush puppy and as tasty as a trifle, this wonderful invention, sir, is called a Sherry Cobbler.


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