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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The Bristol Cream PRs are busy promoting it as a cocktail ingredient. I should have taken some! Allthough I am still basking in the glory of my ginger wine and elderflower number!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.