The end of a meal seems to carry less excitement than its beginning these days; it’s more often signaled by an airborne check request than a round of desserts, let alone digestif cocktails. However, for some, this dose of sugar is the only way to close a meal. As Alexandre Dumas put it in his Grand dictionnaire de Cuisine (1873), “after normal hunger has been satisfied…a final tempting of his sensuality.”
At Hillside Supper Club, located on a quiet corner in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights, it is hard not to be tempted by the offering scrawled in chalk above the kitchen, promising the unlikely pairing of smoke and coffee with cream sherry. Utilizing only low-ABV wine and beer, the Gomez cocktail blends a simple syrup — smoked in a pan over burning applewood chips — with brewed coffee. Lemon brings the right amount of bitterness and sour notes to complement the sherry’s richness.
While sherry might once have been the perfect choice for one’s grandmother after dinner, thankfully, for this drink Hillside rightfully employs the high-quality Alvear Solera cream sherry, a nutty oloroso sweetened with ripe Pedro Ximénez. As with other coffee cocktails, there’s a spritely kick from the caffeine, but despite that similarity, it’s hard to pin down a lineage for this cocktail. It’s simply a flavor-driven approach to forging a drink, and one I would be happy to sip any crisp fall night. Enjoy.
Servings: 1 cocktail
1 1/2 ounces Alvear Solera cream sherry
1 ounce cold-brewed coffee
1 1/2 ounces smoked syrup*
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
For the smoked syrup (use caution with this recipe):
- In a divided hotel pan, fill one side with 1:1 simple syrup and the other with apple wood chips.
- Light the apple wood chips on fire and cover entire pan quickly with aluminum foil and to allow the chips to smoke rather than be on fire.
- Let the syrup sit in the hotel pan smoker for 25 minutes and then store in the refrigerator for later use.
- Combine ingredients into a shaker tin, then add ice.
- Shake vigorously for 10 seconds and strain into a dessert-wine glass.
- Garnish with a coffee bean or a lemon peel.
Prep Time: 3 minutes