If there were a Cocktail Hall of Fame, the Cobbler would stand front and center as a historical wunderkind of the boozy persuasion. Not only was it invented in America, but it can also lay claim to ushering in the use of the straw, as well as the lavish application of crushed ice (a new invention of its own). At the Spare Room, the Sherry Cobbler is alive and well, crafted both traditionally and with a modern twist.
“A Sherry Cobbler at 5 p.m. is heaven and my long time favorite personal cocktail,” says Naomi Schimek, Beverage Director at the Spare Room. “It's low- proof enough to drink in the daytime and makes for an excellent aperitif.” As a bar that makes classic cocktails its mission, the Spare Room delivers the real deal, thus allowing us to indulge in a bit of our spirited past .
Indeed, the Cobbler is as retro as it gets, tracing its roots back to the mid-1800s, when its elegant simplicity – merely sherry, sugar and fruit, plus that novel crushed ice and straw – sent the world into paroxysms of bibulous joy.
In fact, Charles Dickens himself clearly sampled more than a few, as one of his characters in Martin Chuzzlewit called the Cobbler “a wonderful invention.” And bartender Harry Johnson, whose Bartender's Manual of 1882 contains a recipe, noted that the Cobbler was “without a doubt the most popular beverage in the country with ladies as well as with gentlemen.”
The drink also makes quite an entrance, usually served, as in the photo above, in an ornate goblet with an even more impressive array of seasonal fruits – if Carmen Miranda were a cocktail, this would be it.
Schimek's s favorite version is the one made by Edwin Cruz, who recently left the Spare Room for Portland. Despite Cruz's departure, the original 19th century style is still available, as well as the Spare Room's house recipe, which adds farmers market strawberries and a complex Cognac to complement the nutiness of the sherry.
Traditional Sherry Cobbler
From: The Spare Room; adapted from Harry Johnson's Bartender's Manual.
1 lemon peel
1 ½ teaspoons superfine sugar
3 ounces Fino Sherry
Seasonal fruit and mint for garnish
1. Muddle the lemon peel with the sugar.
2. Add the sherry.
3. “Roll” * the drink with crushed ice.
4. Pour the contents with the ice into a goblet and garnish enthusiastically with seasonal fruits and mint.
The Spare Room Cobbler
From: The Spare Room
3 strawberries (Harry's Berries recommended)
1 lemon wedge
¾ ounce simple syrup
¾ ounce Cognac
2 ounces Drysack medium sherry
1 strawberry and lemon curl for garnish
1. Muddle the strawberries and the lemon wedge.
2. Add the simple syrup, Cognac and sherry.
3. “Roll” * with crushed ice.
4. Pour the contents with the ice into a goblet and garnish with strawberries and a lemon curl.
* In Schimek's words: “Rolling refers to a technique (as opposed to shaking, stirring or throwing) for agitating a cocktail that you use when you want to emulsify without adding in to much aeration or dilution. Most commonly used with Bloody Marys and cobblers – you are simply transferring the contents from one tin to the other without straining – “rolling” back and forth four to five times between tins and then generally “dumping,” a term we use when pouring the entire contents of a shaker into a glass, including ice, without straining.”
Lesley blogs at 12 Bottle Bar, tweets at @12BottleBar and is the author of the book “Gin: A Global History.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.