To execute most recipes in a classic cocktail manual, you need a mixing tin, citrus and booze. Today, recipes are more complicated: Rife with foraged produce and bitters that take months to craft, they’re not exactly user-friendly. Enter Wine & Spirits’ House Mix: a collection of recipes and tips for the easy-to-replicate drinks that professional bartenders make at home.
Matty McGee, who has tended bar at Emeryville, California’s Prizefighter since 2014, spends an inordinate amount of his time with ice. He regularly goes to work on a 300-pound ice block, alternating between chainsaw, hammer and chisel. His favorite at-home drink is based on crushed ice: the timeless Sherry Cobbler.
“It is this refreshing thing—you want it to be like iced tea on the patio,” he says.
“It’s rich and packed with flavor, but lifting with its lack of weight and alcohol.” Its seasonal versatility, he adds, is one of its most endearing traits: “Summer may be the quintessential time for it, but the nuttiness and dried fruit notes still work in October or November—it has this revitalizing thing, no matter what the climate is.”
Matty McGee’s Sherry Cobbler
Combine all ingredients with ice cubes in a mixing tin and shake very briefly. Pour into a collins glass, fill with crushed ice and top with mint and whatever fresh fruit is in season.
The bottom line
“Drinking’s expensive—Sherry is not. If I make a giant pitcher of cobbler I’m not out $200 to entertain 10 people at my house. Alvear retails for $14 or $15. It’s so tasty, you feel like you’re stealing.”
The iceman cometh
“A Lewis bag is one of the five tools I’d keep at home—it doesn’t take up any space. Fill the bag with ice, whack it a few times [with a mallet, the side of a hammer, a rolling pin, etc.] and you have this beautiful snow—it doesn’t have to be the fanciest ice in the world.”
Easy does it
“Don’t over-shake. Use a really a short shake—just mash the orange and lemon up a bit and add a little oxygen. You already have low alcohol content; over-shaking will make it watery. Just a quick back and forth, back and forth. Shaking with the lemon and orange slices accesses the oil in the skin and the pulp. It adds an almost inconsequential amount of citrus that you wouldn’t want to measure—a bit of lift, without the acid abusing you.”
“Jerry Thomas wasn’t getting kiwis in January—he used what was available. You could use almost anything: apples, stone fruit, nectarines, raspberries.… The mint and the fruit are right in front of your nose and will cross over to your palate as you drink.”
This cocktail recipe is a W&S Web Exclusive.