6 ways to make merry with sherry in Jerez
It used to be the furtive tipple of maiden aunts and vicars and the highlight of Women’s Institute socials. But what Calendar Girls the movie did for the WI, clever marketing has done for sherry from Jerez, now starring in everything from cocktails to Michelin star cuisine.
The world sherry capital’s liquid gold has been dragged out of dark, musty cellars and into the limelight to shine in the local gastronomy. Enjoy it with your meal, in your meal, after your meal – and maybe poured over ice cream later!
Even the bodegas are PX-Factoring up their acts in summer with catamaridajes – a sherry tasting paired with a palo of flamenco. Enjoy a fandango with your fino and a malagueñas with your manzanilla. Olé!
So if you’d like to give the good old Harvey’s Bristol Cream another chance, now is the time and Jerez is the place to make merry with sherry.
Six Ways to Make Merry with Sherry
1. Dine chez the Sherry Chef
This swish Michelin Guide-recommended restaurant in Jerez city centre used to be a bodega. But you get more than a drop in a tasting glass at La Carboná, where sherry stars in the food as well as on the wine list. A staple in meat sauces, sweet sauces, casseroles and coulis, the saucy techniques of guapo Jerezano Javier Muñoz, known as the Sherry Chef, would scandalise your maiden aunt. La Carboná also offers over 50 varieties of sherry to pair with every course, as well as 18 Jerez brandies to go with your coffee.
2. Get steaming with sherry
Hammam Andalusi is no ordinary spa. After you’ve soaked, scrubbed and sampled the chocolate and volcanic mud treatments in this atmospheric Moorish-style baths, you can enjoy a sherry wine-pairing lunch or dinner on the rooftop overlooking the dome of Jerez cathedral, lit up at night. The romance certainly worked for Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis who dined here while they were dating and got married soon after. Open Monday to Sunday, 10am to 10pm. Calle Salvador 6.
3. Hit the tabanco trail
Bodegas aren’t the only places to enjoy sherry en rama ‘from the cask’. Head for a tabanco where they serve it from the wood in measures that would make the vicar slur his sermon. Back in the day, tabancos were smoky, sand-floored, male-only haunts filled with the sounds of impromptu flamenco. Today it’s a more egalitarian scene, with better flamenco, but you can still fill up your flagon of sherry ‘to go’. The fare is simple but good – a tangy manchego cheese or salty shrimp fritter (tortilla de camarones), perfect with a crisp dry fino or an earthy oloroso. New tabancos are opening every year. Try Las Cuadras, housed in an old palace coach house and stables, which offers nightly flamenco. Plaza de la Asuncion 2.
4. Michelin plankton and sherry
Discover which sherries go with the microscopic organisms whales eat at Aponiente in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Andalucia’s first triple Michelin-starred restaurant. Angel León, aka the Chef of the Sea, is world-renowned for his avant garde fish and seafood creations and his 20-course wine pairing menu pays due homage to Sherry Triangle wines. Along with plankton, his repertoire encompasses sea urchins, marine sausages, sauces thickened with fish eyes and sweet sea dessert. C/ Francisco Cossi Ochoa s/n, El Puerto de Santa María.
5. Make a date for Jerez Vendimia
The sherry city goes to town in September with a two-week programme of entertainment and gastronomic sherry tastings galore. The messy highlight is the display of old-fashioned grape treading known as the Pisa de la Uva, held in the early evening on the steps of the Cathedral. Equestrian and flamenco shows, vineyard and bodega tours and concerts are all part of the fun. Read my 2018 review in Essential Magazine
6. The cherry on the sherry
Master mixologist Eloy García has won more contests than your granny’s had Tio Pepes and now he’s shaking it up with sherry. If you’re ever in downtown Jerez after 9.30pm, look out for his 1930s Havana-style bar, Cubáname. To Eloy, there’s nothing avant garde about using sherry as a cocktail. “Qué va, I’m Jerezano and I’ve been making them for years,” says this affable host who has a witty anecdote to go with every drink. Eloy mixed me cocktails showcasing six different sherries and I didn’t even wake up with a resaca (Spanish hangover). The man’s a maestro!