The Cobbler is a shaken cocktail that has been around since the 1820s or ’30s. The classic template for the drink is a mix of any spirit or wine with sugar, seasonal fruit, an herb and crushed ice. It’s refreshing yet simple and balanced. In its heyday, it was one of the most popular tipples of the time, but it lost its appeal during Prohibition as cocktails, especially those with a lower alcohol content, became less common. Now, contemporary cocktail bartenders have rekindled the flame of this historic cocktail, which has given way to a plethora of variations.
The key source of acid in this cocktail to balance the sugar comes from the wine or sherry generally used as the base, but many bartenders tend to also add citrus juice to their Cobblers, although this isn’t technically part of the traditional formula. The orange wedges of the early decades of the 1800s that were used to garnish the Cobbler were more bitter than the ones available today, so some bartenders believe more acidity is needed to appease the modern palate. But really, most of the drink’s acidity should come from the wine base, or a cocktail shrub, instead of citrus.
To make the best Cobbler possible, using quality crushed or nugget ice is essential, then the rest of the ingredients easily fall into place. These are a few Cobbler recipes to allow you better understand this historic category of cocktails and set you on your way to developing variations of your own.
Cocktail historian David Wondrich is credited with digging up the first known mention of the Sherry Cobbler from the 1838 diary of Katherine Jane Ellice, a Canadian who took note of the drink while traveling in the U.S. But the classic, and original, Cobbler put its stake in the ground as one of the most popular cocktails of the era in “The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit,” an 1840s book by Charles Dickens, in which the main character reacts to his first Sherry Cobbler. The mix is unassuming, a simple balance of nutty amontillado sherry, sugar and half an orange wheel, but it’s the addition of a straw and crushed ice that really made this cocktail a pioneering one: The Sherry Cobbler is the first cocktail to really employ the drinking device that allows drinkers to sip without getting smacked in the nose with ice.
The Gage Cobbler
For this Cobbler variant from Azrhiel Frost, the bar manager at The Gage in Chicago, a dry fino sherry is used as the base, bringing acid and salinity to the mix, and is balanced with the sweet raspberry notes of Chambord. As many modern bartenders do, Frost adds a touch of fresh lemon juice to balance the Chambord and garnishes the cocktail with an orange slice and a fresh mint sprig. We suggest you make it your own by adding some seasonal berries, which will also add to the visual appeal.
If you’re a savvy home bartender looking for a challenge, then this Cobbler recipe is calling to you. Created by New York City bartending vet Naren Young, this cobbler is made with a rosato vermouth, Aperol, strawberry puree and rhubarb bitters, plus lemon juice and a rhubarb shrub for acidity. It’s garnished with seasonal berries, mint and powdered sugar in true Cobbler fashion. Some might say it pushes the boundaries of the Cobbler category, but this floral and fruity take on the classic does not disappoint.
Averna amaro lends a delightfully bitter touch to this cocktail from Stacy Swenson of drinks education and consulting company Simple Serve. She combines it with sweet vermouth and lemon juice and throws in a barspoon of fruity marmalade for sweetness. Garnish with fresh blackberries, a mint sprig and crushed black peppercorns to echo the vermouth’s complex herbal flavors. Get the recipe.