The Cocktail Gadabout #85

Artist’s Special

[August 14th, 2017] I’ve mentioned before on this site how drawn I am to sherry cocktails. They contribute a low octane complexity to a drink that wine can’t match. The fairly recent publication, A Modern Guide to Sherry is chock full of incredible cocktail recipes. I had wanted to try the Artist’s Special earlier but getting my hands on fresh red currants was easier said that done. When I saw them in a local market, I did not hesitate. They, like rhubarb and fiddleheads, apparently represent the last of truly seasonal produce in North America.

The Artist’s Special recipe first appeared in Barflies & Cocktails in 1927. It is perfect example of how sherry can subtly lengthen a dominant ingredient like scotch, while concurrently contributing to the final product. Despite the presence of lemon, the tartness of red currant almost acts as the sour in this drink, and with great effect. Apparently, good old Jerry Thomas first added red currant syrup to a drink back in the mid eighteen hundreds. How can anyone go wrong with that kind of pedigree?



1 oz Oloroso Sherry
1 oz Blended Scotch
½ oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Red Currant Syrup
1 Lemon Peel


  1. Add all ingredients to mixing glass. Add ice and shake.
  2. Strain into a chilled Nick & Nora. Garnish with lemon.

Red Currant Syrup

1 cup Stemmed Red Currants
¼ cup Raspberries
1 ¼ cup Sugar
7 oz Boiling Water

Combine the berries in a bowl and muddle until mushy. Cover with a cloth and leave at room temperature overnight. Add the sugar and water and stir to combine. Let cool and then fine strain. Keeps for a month in the refrigerator.

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