This month’s cocktail comes from Seville where I was last week. One of the most iconic buildings in this lovely and exciting city is the Alfonso XIII hotel, an incredible Moorish-style structure of sweeping arches, curling wrought iron, fairy tale towers, and ,everywhere, colourfully chaotic ceramics – floor and wall tiles, finials, lights, plant pots…
It seems Alfonso XIII was a bit of a lad, he kicked off his reign in 1902 with a week of celebrations with horse races, balls, bullfights and much else. He was an enthusiastic football supporter and enjoyed a good party. The problem was that he needed somewhere, decent of course, for his numerous guests to stay. The solution was to build a luxury hotel to house them, so, for example, when he got married the Palace Hotel was built in Madrid and for his VIP invitees to the Iber-American Exposition in 1928 the Alfonso XIII was built in Seville.
The hotel is conveniently central and has an impressive cocktail menu. I had something which I immediately dubbed ‘Spain in a glass’. Just the taste of it caused every happy memory of living in and visiting Spain to bubble into the brain, the effect being further bolstered by the very typical salted almonds served with it.
It combines sweet Spanish brandy with sweet Spanish sherry, the two then topped with whipped cream which forms a mousse-like froth on the top. A sort of cool, Spanish version of Irish coffee….
This is how to recreate it:
Mix two tablespoons of Cardenal Mendoza Spanish brandy with three tablespoons of Pedro Ximénez sherry. Top with a tablespoon of whipped cream. Serve with salted, olive-oil roasted almonds.
What can you do with left over Pedro Ximénez sherry?
It makes a mean toffee sauce and pour over ice cream or fruit pies. Or you can make a thick syrup by heating and stirring 60ml/¼ cup of the sherry with a tablespoon of sugar and boiling for a few minutes. Then dribble the syrup over a Torta de la Serena or del Casar cheese…. awesome in the true meaning of the word.
In the UK you can buy both the whisky and the sherry from The Whisky Exchange.
Once you’ve had a couple of these you will feel silly enough (possibly) to watch the Cameron Diaz/Tom Cruise film Knight and Day. It stretches the outer boundaries of suspension of disbelief, but on the other hand it is filmed in Seville…if you can’t visit yourself watch the film – you can see some of the scenes filmed in Seville in the trailer below.