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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20 thoughts on “If Only Hemingway Had Drunk Sherry

  1. Beau­ti­ful pho­tos and a very pretty drink. I love sherry but only dry sherry — I just can’t do the cream thing. I find it too claggy and cloy­ing but the light­ness of a dry sherry is won­der­ful and ice cold — reeeally refresh­ing. I love the idea of mak­ing sherry cool. GG

  2. I like both dry and cream, but even if you’re not keen on sweet sherry the addi­tion of ginger ale and pomegranate juice cuts through the sug­ar com­pletely. You end up with a sharp but fruity drink. Thanks so much for your com­ment — very much appre­ci­ated and I’m glad you like the pic­tures.

  3. I really think, des­pite the pess­im­ist­ic jab­ber­ing of many that our sum­mer is really start­ing to look up now. The sun was shin­ing won­der­fully today and I am sure this will con­tin­ue. And while loun­ging in the garden this sum­mer this drink will be by my side. And i totally agree on the ice cubes, frozen water really dilutes the taste. Great post yet again Charlie!

    • I’m very pleased to hear that the drink will be by your side. I’m also impressed by your optim­ism, so I will fol­low your lead and hope for the best. Thanks so much for your lovely com­ment.

  4. My Harvey’s Bris­tol Cream sits in the cup­board wait­ing for its annu­al out­ing as a cook­ing ingredi­ent. The fino sits in the fridge and isn’t there for long — a per­fect aper­at­if. Hemingway’s Neo­lo­gism is a fab­ulous name for a cock­tail and I’m rush­ing off to get pomegranate juice for ice cubes right now.
    I was intro­duced to the schoon­er when I worked a few even­ings in a pub — I thought it was the most ridicu­lous thing then too. I travel to the UK in 2 weeks time and you’ve made the long­ing for an Eng­lish garden keen­er (although my Moth­er warns me that her beds have been flattened by the tor­ren­tial rain).

    • I cooked pork belly last night, and a splash of Har­veys Bris­tol Cream in the sauce at the end tasted very good. I know what you mean about Eng­lish gar­dens — mine is sur­pris­ingly unbattered, des­pite the atro­cious and con­stant rain. An Amer­ic­an friend of mine says she finally under­stands why the Brit­ish wear shorts when it’s only 12 degrees — unless we take the chance while we can, shorts will nev­er, ever get worn.

      • I don’t know about you, but I much prefer it as a cock­tail ingredi­ent — I find it too sweet to drink on its own. I love the sound of your ginger wine and eld­er­flower extra­vag­anza. Ginger wine, along with HBC, is anoth­er throw back to the 1970s — how much nicer to com­bine it with eld­er­flower.

  5. Can’t wait to try this! You have cap­tured 2 of my favour­ite things in one glass! Sherry & Pom­megranates. Inspired idea to make ice cubes with the juice. Thank you for sug­gest­ing.
    I became a fan of Bris­tol Cream whilst attend­ing a Sherry Educator’s course in Jerez last year. Had nev­er appre­ci­ated it until then. Try remov­ing a thick strip of peel from a scrubbed orange — best done with a potato peel­er. Wipe the peel around the inside of a pretty glass — I use an old fashioned/ Whisky tum­bler. Leave peel in the glass and add an ice cube. Top up with HBCream. Divine aper­itif or with dates, nuts etc instead of a pud­ding.
    Great pics too.

    • How fas­cin­at­ing to have been to Jerez to learn more. I abso­lutely love the idea of wip­ing orange peel around a glass — some­thing I will def­in­itely try. And such a good idea to have Har­veys Bris­tol Cream as a pud­ding with dates and nuts. Thanks so much for telling me and thank you too for leav­ing a com­ment — I love hear­ing everyone’s thoughts.

  6. You have inspired me to get some sherry and make this deli­ciously sum­mery sound­ing cock­tail. I must admit that I had nev­er thought to include sherry in a cock­tail (not that I have that many mind you) — the ice cubes look abso­lutely beau­ti­ful. Right then, sherry and dry ginger ale is on the shop­ping list. Sherry always reminds me of an aunt who at Christ­mas time would offer a glass of sherry but always add “it’s Har­veys you know” !!

    • I’m so pleased you like the sound of Hemingway’s Neo­lo­gism — that’s great. Thanks so much for your com­ment — the story about your aunt made me smile. I can just ima­gine the con­ver­sa­tion.

  7. A par­tic­u­larly delight­ful post. Drinks taste so much bet­ter when they look so encour­agingly beau­ti­ful. You’ve been very gen­er­ous with the pho­tos too. Your garden looks won­der­ful and the ambi­ence with Hemingway’s Neo­lo­gism to hand is most enti­cing.

    • I took the pic­tures on a day that was threat­en­ing rain — the usu­al kind of day in oth­er words — but per­haps that gives a true impres­sion of an Eng­lish garden. Thanks for leav­ing a com­ment — I do hope you try Hemingway’s Neo­lo­gism.

  8. I have to laugh! You as a Brit (ok, as an Eng­lish­wo­man) have these con­nec­tions to sherry which, as an Amer­ic­an, I just don’t have (accept Mr. Banks, of course) but Har­veys Bris­tol Cream is a blast from the past — I remem­ber the tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials for this liba­tion — and to tell the truth, I don’t even know what it is — from my youth.

    This is such a won­der­ful, charm­ing, funny post, Charlie. I love yours thoughts and your writ­ing. “So, clev­ah!” I could say if I was sip­ping sherry. And the story of the stump­less glass is hys­ter­ic­al. The drink, on the oth­er hand, is so pretty and I love the pom ice cubes gently melt­ing into the drink to add more fla­vor. I would gladly join you in your garden for one of these in any shaped glass.

    • If only you could, Jam­ie. Next time you’re in the UK per­haps. Cul­tur­al ref­er­ences are so funny, aren’t they? Now that you’ve aler­ted me to the 1970s Amer­ic­an ads for Har­veys Bris­tol Cream — rather sug­gest­ive for the times — I can see why you must be so puzzled by the old Brit­ish vis­ion of sherry.

  9. What beau­ti­ful pho­tos, you man­age to make a wet and gloomy Eng­lish sum­mer look like some­where we all would like to be, or maybe just in your garden drink­ing your cock­tails! Have always liked sherry, my moth­er always had a bottle in the cup­board (it las­ted at least a year if not longer, in fact it was via a Sherry bottle that she was reunited with a past love at age 75.…but thats anoth­er story!). I prefer a Fino, cold and crisp from the fridge, per­fect for a summer’s evening.….….rainy of oth­er­wise!

    • I find myself com­pletely cap­tiv­ated by the story of your moth­er being reunited with an old flame, aged 75, via a bottle of sherry. How mar­vel­lous as well as fas­cin­at­ing. Thanks so much for your com­ment — a pleas­ure to read.

  10. Funny to think of sherry sud­denly becom­ing cool — like a granny sud­denly abandon­ing her blue rinse and going out to raves.
    I have a retro fond­ness for dry sherry, the fla­vour of which is shackled togeth­er with pea­nuts in my memory — Christ­mas drinks with the neigh­bours back in the Eighties when vis­it­ing my par­ents, I guess! Nowadays I only ever use it for trifle and stir-fries, but, after look­ing at your beau­ti­ful pic­tures, I’m temp­ted to break out the cock­tails and try your gor­geous pomegranate ice-cubes.with it.

  11. Sherry and pea­nuts — that takes me right back to a time when sherry was decidedly un-cool. My grand­par­ents used to serve it at 6 pm on the dot, with tiny lacquered bowls of pea­nuts.

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