A Friday afternoon classic: the Sherry Cobbler


Sherry Cobbler

120ml dry oloroso or amontillado sherry
sugar syrup to taste
2-3 slices of orange

Lightly muddle the fruit in a shaker, then add remaining ingredients. Fill with shaved ice, shake well and pour into a fancy bar glass. Cap with a little more ice and ornament with berries in season. Imbibe through a straw.

Sherry, in case you’re unaware, has staged somewhat of a comeback. Not the kind of comeback in which everyone is drinking it, of course — it’s more like the riesling revival that industry folk keep predicting will happen (the same which the everyday punter stubbornly refuses to catch on to).

Which is just fine — more sherry for us.


And the Sherry Cobbler is a perfect vehicle for putting it in your mouth.

Created some time in the first half of the 1800’s, the origins and the creator are unknown; this, however, didn’t stop the Sherry Cobbler gaining widespread acclaim. As David Wondrich has pointed out in his book, Imbibe, the Sherry Cobbler was the most popular drink its day; Simon McGoram, writing in these pages some years back, writing that “this libation is in your bartending DNA – the Sherry Cobbler was the Mojito, the Caipiroska, the Lychee Martini (combined) of its day. During the 1850s there was simply no more famous mixed drink in the world.”

But what was it that made the Sherry Cobbler so damn popular? According to Jordan Stein, writing in Saveur, a confluence of events led to the public’s fascination with the Cobbler: the availability of ice year round; the import tax on sherry had been halved in 1825; and sugar and citrus became cheaper “when temperate Florida was absorbed into the US (as a territory in 1822 and as a state in 1845)”.

The Banter

Such was the Sherry Cobbler’s fame that in 1855 you could easily order one in Sydney, Australia. George Street’s Café Francaise (better know as simply ‘the Café’) was famed for theirs. An article in Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer from Saturday 17 November, 1855 entitled ‘Thirsty Times’ explains that due to the unseasonably hot weather:

“…Large quantities of ale, porter, lemonade, ginger beer, &c., &c., were disposed of; whilst among the more fastidious, sherry cobblers, mint juleps, ice creams, fruit ices, Catherina Hayes’s, &c., &c, were in great request. The hotels and other similar establishments had an unusually large number of visitors, particularly the Cafe in George Street, which enjoys quite a reputation for the compounding of summer drinks.”

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