Interviews • September 23, 2016

Interview with Steve Olson, aka wine geek, on Sherry Cocktails

With Spain’s Great Match on the horizon and the Sherry wine and cocktail lounge Taberna Jerez to look forward to, Wines from Spain took the opportunity to speak to wine expert, Sherry enthusiast, and all-around libation guru Steve Olson, aka wine geek.

Steve Olson is dedicated to the education and consultation of degustation for appreciation and celebration. He teaches, lectures, and writes about wine, beer, spirits, and more, and has worked with the Vinos de Jerez campaign since 1998.

What are your favorite Sherry cocktails?

I love the Sherry Cobbler, and I am a big fan of using Sherry in punches, one of the oldest recipes of any mixed drink.  There is a special place in my heart for each of the Sherry Cocktail Competition winners.  Last year was the 10th anniversary of the competition, so it would be hard to pick a favorite there!  That said, for me, it’s hard to beat My Bamboo (aka the Adonis Cocktail).

This all-Sherry drink first shows up in 1890 in Yokohama, Japan at the Grand Hotel, courtesy of one Louis Eppinger, yet by 1893 it was already being served in all of the NY Broadway Hotels as the Boston Bamboo, and by 1901 was popular on the West Coast. There are many versions and permutations, and the arguments rage on about the type(s) of Vermouth and the use of bitters, but my version combines them all, and is actually [also] a take on the Adonis, which was yet another variation on the Bamboo theme, and was created in honor of the longest running play on Broadway, opening in 1884, finally closing after 1,239 performances.


My Bamboo

1 ½ oz Fino Sherry

¾ oz Carpano Antica Formula

¾ oz Dolin Blanc

1 dash DeGroff’s Bitters

1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters

lemon peel

Combine all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir. Strain into a chilled coupe.  Disperse lemon oil from peel over the top of the glass and discard. We also love to garnish this with three small Manzanilla olives on a pick.

Why do you think Sherry has gained such popularity in the US as a cocktail ingredient?

Do you mean besides the fact that Sherry is amazing, delicious, versatile, works with everything, and there is a different style of Sherry for every purpose?

OH, besides all of that, there has been a recent push for bartenders to look to the past for inspiration, and Sherry has historically been an essential and even prominent ingredient in many of the first cocktails.  Indeed, the Sherry cocktail goes back hundreds of years, to its use in punch, the Sherry Cobbler, and other great Classics like the Adonis, the Bamboo Cocktail, the Flame of Love, or the Tuxedo.  Then on top of it, the flavors unique to Sherry are incredible tools in cocktails.  With the sheer range of styles you can bind a drink, lengthen a drink, brighten a drink, and deepen and soften a drink.

You can use the dry styles as fortifiers, and as low alcohol alternatives in cocktails, the sweet styles can be used to enhance and soften other alcohols, and Pedro Ximenez can even be used as a sweetener in its own right, just like simple syrup or honey or agave, but far more interesting and complex, adding its own dimensions of taste and texture to the drink.

Why should I be drinking Sherry?

Because it’s delicious!

It’s one of the most food-friendly wines in the world and can pair with even those foods said to be most difficult to pair with, like artichokes or asparagus.

It’s also wildly affordable considering the amazing quality of wines being brought into the U.S.

There is no wine on earth that has such a broad range of styles, flavors, textures, and there is a Sherry wine for every mood, every occasion, every season, and every bite of food in a meal.

Why wouldn’t you drink Sherry?

What is one thing about Spanish wine that everyone should know?

In my opinion, at this moment, Spain makes some of the most underrated wines in the world, and as such, they represent great value, at every price point. They are not always flashy, or the types of wines that garner high scores, as the Spanish are extremely practical and logical about this most symbiotic relationship between wine and food, and wines that taste good with food are not necessarily always wines that win big competitions. In Spanish culture, wine and food are supposed to go well on the table together, and as such, they should taste better when they are paired with one another, and in Spain, they usually do.