MxMo: When you are looking to luge

When looking to Bone Luge, a few key factors emerge:

Balanced alcohol and residual marrow pairing — If the chosen accompaniment is too bitter, hot or sweet, you’ll mask the residual marrow flavor.

Mid palette density — The luge experience will last upwards of 10-20 seconds. Too flat in the middle, you won’t savor your luge during the luge.

Extended finish — Once you’ve luged, your friends are going to ask how it was. Did you enjoy it? Choose an alcohol without an extended finish and you’ll just be contemplating what was instead of what’s developing.

OK at room temp — The bone will be warm, so chilled cocktails are out. Also, ice dilutes and who wants that?

Bonus points: aided by oxygenation — The process of luging adds oxygen to the shot, so we look for places where aeration improves aromatics -— fundamentally why sherry’s our first love. Simply, there are more aromatics in sherry than any other wine (c.f. Tastebuds and Molecules, Francois Chartier)

Based on these guidelines, we set out to design a Luge-worthy cocktail for the virtual cocktail party known as Mixology Monday (MxMo). The rules this time: Emphasize fortified wines such as sherry or port and presumably Chinato, vermouth, and Bonal too.

Originally, we thought to play on the salinity of a Manzanilla sherry by substituting it for a scotch in a classic cocktail such as a Rob Roy or a Bobby Burns. Manzanilla is the place-designated fino sherry from Sanlucar de Barrameda. It has an extra thick yeast cap during aging which protects it from oxidizing too early. This freshness is balanced by aging the casks in caves near the Mediterranean. As the seasons expand and contract the casks, they accept some of the sea breeze and you get the signature salinity of Islay or Campbelltown scotch.

Playing with combinations, starting with the Hidalgo La Gitana (really the benchmark example of Manzanilla) as a base, we tried adding small bits of sweeter things like maraschino or late harvest wine. We quickly learned that Manzanilla is far too delicate to sub straight for Scotch. You’ll need to dial down the adjuncts considerably if you don’t want to overwhelm the sherry. Certainly cocktails like the Blood and Sand or the aggressive Black Diamond Flip were out.

Next we considered adding more aromatic and bitter ingredients. We decided on Bonal as the gentian gave the sherry a fascinating nose without interfering with the extended finish that’s sherry’s hallmark (it develops as it aerates in your mouth). This increased heft, however, left the mid-palate a bit flat, so we added a bar spoon of PX sherry. Too much! Dialing it back to a scant bar spoon of PX, we nearly had it perfected. A single dash of a very bright orange bitters such as Bitter Truth brightened it all up.*

2 ¼ oz. Manzanilla Sherry
¼ oz. Bonal
1 scant bar spoon PX Sherry
1 scant dash Orange Bitters (such as Bitter Truth)
Build in glass** and gently stir. Luge.

* We love Gaz Reagan but his orange bitters are too spicy here
** Yes, there’s no ice here. Your sherry and Bonal were refrigerated, right?! You didn’t want them to go bad and your luge is warm so there’s no need for an ice cold, diluted cocktail.