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The Spirit of Wine: Wine Cocktails


So what about wine in cocktails? The combination of alcohol and various mixers has always been a process of discovery and experimentation. With the recent resurgence of The Cocktail as an art, most of us view these as being spirit-based, but let’s take a look at what we can do, what we have done, and what occurs when we step outside the box and incorporate wine into our mixed drinks.

Ernest Hemingway might have been one of the world’s great trendsetters in the combination of libations. There are more than a handful of cocktails named in his honor, and one great example is “Death in the Afternoon”. This cocktail was named for a piece on his travels and observations in Spain published in 1932.

Harold Mcgee’s 2007 New York Times article “Trying to Clear Absinthe’s Reputation” describes the drink, as explained by Hemingway himself: “Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly”. Feel free to try this one at home, “caveat emptor”. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Earnest’s drink is but one of many examples of combining wine and spirits. Most of us are familiar with Sangria, which combines red wine with brandy and fruit. The New York Sour is like Sangria’s drier, more sophisticated cousin. Created in 1870, it has seen a resurgence in popularity. It’s based on a traditional sour cocktail, combining the elements of whisk(e)y, lemon, sugar, with the graceful addition of a red wine float dancing across the surface of the drink.


If you think about it, wine show up in more cocktails than you first think. Consider for a moment— vermouth, the aromatized wine used in Manhattans and Martinis and Port, a fortified wine used in the Suburban cocktail. Plus, there’s any spritzer, the Mimosa, and and variety of drinks including Sherry or Madeira that could be counted in this category. All amazing in their own ways. All get you to the same happy place. Cin Cin!



By: Joel Caruso

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