1) When did you fall in love with Sherry?
Jenn Tosatto: I never really appreciated Sherry until I delved into craft cocktails. Before that I thought it was just for cooking. Of course, at the time (around 2008 or so) Sherry wasn't being featured on very many menus in Kansas City. It wasn't until I began my job at Manifesto that I first tried different varieties, and fell in love.
2) Why do you love it?
JT: Apart from it just being downright delicious, I love the flexibility of Sherry. It can be just as at home as a base spirit, a modifier, in a boozy stirred drink, or a tiki cocktail. I love that Sherry has such breadth. From the super creamy sweetness of PX to a bone dry Fino, I have a lot of choices of what profile would work best in a given cocktail. The method of making Sherry, and the people who make it are also so fascinating. How can you not love a product when you see the care and love that goes into making every bottle?
3) Who introduced you to Sherry?
My Sherry obsession can be blamed on Ryan Maybee, and fostered by Steve Olson. Ryan hired me at Manifesto and kind of took me under his wing and taught me so much about the craft, and spirits. We had a Sherry Cobbler on the menu, and it was like nothing I had tasted before. Until then I had thought of Sherry as a spirit, not a wine. And changing that perception made a huge difference. I made it my mission to learn about Sherry so I could use it in my cocktails. That quest led me to Steve Olson. And if you hear that man speak about spirits, you can't help but adopt the passion that he has for that spirit. (On a side note, Steve is also the reason I'm a complete Mezcal nut).
4) What makes a Sherry cocktail special or different than other cocktails?
I think for one is the versatility I was talking about earlier. But even more than that, I think Sherry comes with an air of mystery and sophistication. For people who don't know a lot about Sherry, they may taste the cocktail and love that sweet nutty character, but not be able to quite put their finger on where it comes from. I love that! And it gives me a chance as a bartender to become a Sherry advocate, and open the guest's mind to it. I also love that Sherry can be used to put lower ABV (alcohol by volume) cocktails on a menu, which I find not only important, but necessary.
5) Who is your favorite person to drink Sherry with?
Someone who has never had it before. I love hearing their take on it. Especially when I can line up a flight of different styles. This is because when you are drinking with other industry people, you both already know the buzz words and points to be made. It's like preaching to the choir. When drinking with someone outside of the industry, you get an entirely different perspective that can teach you a thing or two.
6) What would your perfect Sherry night be?
Simple. A warm but crisp evening on a patio with good friends and live jazz playing. Sipping Sherry with little tapas and having a nice cigar. Perfection.
7) What’s your best Sherry cocktail?
My personal favorite Sherry cocktail that I ever made was called Everybody's Girl. It was a boozy scotch cocktail, but despite other strong flavors, the PX I used was still the star.
Try Jenn's favorite Sherry cocktail, Everybody's Girl, for yourself. Find the recipe here.
To taste her 2015 Sherry Cocktail Competition cocktail, find the recipe for The Night Breed here.
27 April 2016