The Smoked Palomino at Gitane
Like so many sherry lovers, I often find myself making a rueful admission: “I love it, but I hardly ever drink it.” I muttered it one evening recently at Gitane, the cozy Andalusian-inspired restaurant on Claude Lane, where the bartender had a response ready for me: not only a wonderful list of fortified wines from Spain, but also an irresistible new cocktail program that puts the versatile and potent spirit to good use.
The list was crowd-sourced, culled from dozens of recipes developed by bartenders around the country for the annual Vinos de Jerez Cocktail Competition held in New York City each autumn. The result is an elegant collection of drinks that deftly employ sherry’s soupçon of umami, and briny flavor in the context of familiar ingredients.
Chris Hannah of the New Orleans bar French 75 contributed the poised yet lip-smacking jenibre smash; Anthony Schmidt of San Diego wooed me with his doblón’s soothing richness. But it was Phil Ward of New York’s Mayahuel who came up with the cocktail I could drink all day: the smoked palomino, featuring amontillado, grapefruit, lime, and mezcal. It sounds odd, but the combo of smoky mezcal with bright citrus and the buttery-edged sherry is exotic and wonderful.
Gitane 6 Claude Ln., S.F., 415-788-6686