The Very Sherry Ways of One Hong Kong Bar

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New Zealander Josef Murray manages Ham & Sherry | A bit of Jerez, hidden in Hong Kong

It’s best to pay rapt attention when someone like Ryan Magarian tips you off about a bar. The Portland-based distiller and drinks consultant spent several weeks in Hong Kong recently and swan dived into the city’s cocktail culture. While there, Magarian visited—and fell for—the newish Ham & Sherry. “It has one of the most whimsical lists I’ve come across in years.” Cured pig; fortified wine; lighthearted but oh-so-serious drink list: We’re in.

MÁS SHERRY, PLEASE

The name is no misnomer. Ham & Sherry features an extensive selection of Sherries: 14 by the glass and 52 by the bottle. The list delves deep into esoteric categories and includes a handful of individually numbered bottles purchased from the iconic Spanish restaurant El Bullí when it closed three years ago. General manager Josef Murray, a New Zealander who also works for the bar’s parent group, 22 Ships, and his team source directly from well-respected importers and producers. The bar also does private labels, like the Leonor Palo Cortado co-produced with González Byass.

SHERRY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

A sleek, 35-seat bar welcomes customers in the Wan Chai area of Hong Kong, a famous Red Light District immortalized in 1960s movies. Murray hopes the modern setting transports guests to the heart of Jerez. He calls Ham & Sherry “a traditional Tapas bar and a social hub to meet and explore Sherry.” Sherry accounts for 63 percent of the bar’s wine sales, and there is a robust selection of Spanish hams, as well as tapas like anchovies and cheese.

INTO THE DRINK!

Murray isn’t afraid to throw some of the bar’s Sherries into the house cocktails. He notes that Sherries such as Finos and Manzanillas can be used instead of Vermouth in Martinis. And that whimsy that Magarian mentioned? It’s there in the Let’s Go Camping, made with Oloroso, Michter’s Rye, Mancino Rosso, Campari and Absinthe and toasted marshmallow. Sherries don’t oxidize for a day or two once open, says Murray. A bartender’s boon.

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about drinks for two decades. She is the principal of the San Francisco–based Liza the Wine Chick consulting firm and regularly contributes to publications such as Wine Business Monthly, DrinkUpNY and the SOMM Journal.

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