If Only Hemingway Had Drunk Sherry

At this time of year cock­tails in the garden have a glam­or­ous appeal, even if they neces­sit­ate coats, boots and gloves. My new favour­ite ingredi­ent for a cock­tail is sherry, for far too long a com­edy drink. Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe and Benito Pérez Galdós all wrote about sherry; the Poet Laur­eate gets paid in the stuff. But des­pite all their best efforts, sherry has remained fatally tied to the likes of the repressed and punc­tili­ous Mr Banks from Mary Pop­pins who drank a glass of sherry each night at 6.02pm pre­cisely.

Sherry’s struggle to be cool has been dam­aged too by the abom­in­able schoon­er glass. Shaped like a dis­mal 1970s bell­bot­tom trouser leg and with a stumpy little stem, it’s as far from cool as left is from right. I should say, though, that even the dread­ful schoon­er is prefer­able to the glass I was once served sherry in. The cir­cu­lar base of the ugly, mis­ted glass had snapped off, leav­ing only a spike at the bot­tom. ‘There’s a pot-plant on the win­dow-sill’, the parsi­mo­ni­ous host­ess said. ‘If you want to put the glass down, just stick it in the bou­gain­villea.’

If only someone dan­ger­ously trans­gress­ive like Ern­est Hem­ing­way had drunk sherry. If he’d been known to growl ‘Bring me a sherry on the rocks, and make it snappy’, things could have been so dif­fer­ent over the long, lean years of sherry’s 20th Cen­tury. But all that is start­ing to change. Vodka is on the wane and sherry is sud­denly the Fiat 500 of the drinks world. Less alco­hol­ic, more retro and infin­itely more desir­able.

I’ve just been sent a bottle of Har­veys Bris­tol Cream, now pack­aged in a dis­tinct­ive blue glass bottle. Its rich, round, sweet taste is per­fect for a sum­mer cock­tail, even if the prom­ise such a drink holds of long, lan­guor­ous sun-lit even­ings is end­lessly snatched from us by gran­ite-grey skies. I love the the­at­ric­al­ity of cock­tails; the mix­ing, the shak­ing, the twizz­ling and the whole fan­dango. My cre­ation is called Hemingway’s Neo­lo­gism because it’s a drink he nev­er encountered and would most likely have turned his nose up at. But my bet is that he would have loved it, if the rum and whisky hadn’t fin­ished him off first. And if he’d stuck to the low-alco­hol count of Hemingway’s Neo­lo­gism he would nev­er have needed to say ‘Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.’

The trick with cock­tails is to make the ice-cubes out of a com­pon­ent of the cock­tail itself. As the cubes melt you simply get more fla­vour, rather than a watered down ver­sion of what you star­ted with. In this case, I made chubby ice-rolos out of pomegranate juice.


  • I part chilled Har­veys Bris­tol Cream
  • 2 parts pomegranate juice
  • 3 parts chilled ginger ale
  • Hand­ful of pomegranate ice cubes
  • Sprig of mint

Com­bine all the ingredi­ents and pour into long glasses.

I wish I could pour you a glass of Hemingway’s Neo­lo­gism per­son­ally. But since I can’t, I’m serving you a syn­aes­thet­ic vir­tu­al drink instead. Stare at this alli­um for a count of five and it will startle your senses in the same way that the actu­al drink would. Sherry’s new role as a drink so sharp you could slice a loaf with it, suits it so much bet­ter than a schoon­er ever did. Like Willy Wonka’s square sweets that looked round, sherry is now a cold drink that’s sud­denly hot. Mr Banks would hate it.

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