In Chatham County, NC, where I live, we don’t have many options for cocktails. However, the always excellent Oak Leaf restaurant is usually a good place to go (especially on Tuesdays when cocktails are half price). They recently got a new bartender (more aptly “cocktail chef”) named Justin Peregoy who takes cocktails seriously, and he was kind enough to share his recipe for Sherry Baby:
- 1.50 ounces Redemption Rye
- 0.50 ounce Lustau Amontillado Sherry
- 0.25 ounce orange simple syrup
- 2-3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Combine the ingredients in a bar glass, top with ice and stir until the glass is completely chilled top to bottom. Strain into a long stemmed glass and garnish with an orange twist.
The menu at the Oak Leaf changes almost daily, as does the cocktail menu, and I make it a point to try every drink they make at least once. This has become harder since Justin joined their team, as he has added a lot more choices. At a recent meal I had his Sherry Baby and quite liked it. It reminded me of Life is Beautiful, but it worked better with lunch.
“I love what the sherry does in the drink, acting as a great liason between the liquor and food. A lot of cocktails aren’t great food pairings, but the addition of sherry in place of vermouth in a Manhattan style drink makes this a lovely cocktail to enjoy with a meal. Plus, it is quite simple to make. I should add that depending on what sherry I have available, I sometimes adjust the simple syrup one way or the other to compensate.”
Simple syrup is just that, simple. It is real easy to make, as it consists of sugar and water at anywhere between a 1:1 to a 2:1 ratio. For cocktails you want to be closer to 2:1 as you want it to be richer. The Art of Drink has more detailed information and some other suggestions, and where simple sugar really shines is when you add stuff to it.
Make a batch of simple syrup, get it hot, and dump in a lot of rosemary or ginger, let it soak and then strain. Tasty. In the case of this cocktail I just squeezed in a bunch of orange juice.
This was my first experience with Redemption Rye and it was very nice. It has a super-high rye content (they start with 95% rye) which makes it perfect for vintage cocktails. I also like the Amontillado Sherry but probably because it reminded me of the Edgar Allan Poe story and I just like saying “Amontillado”.
Peychaud’s Bitters is a staple item in my bar. In this case it adds a nice floral component as well as a slight red hue to the drink.