Not every cocktail needs to be a laborious affair, made with multiple spirits and homemade ingredients. Neither do they always need to be spirit-forward libations packing an alcoholic punch. Sometimes it’s nice to have an easy-drinking, two-ingredient, low-alcohol sipper like the Adonis cocktail. This pleasing drink is made with only sweet vermouth and fino sherry, but it is a nuanced and layered concoction all the same.
First crafted sometime in the mid-1880s, the Adonis was made, like many classic drinks, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Its invention was in honor of a Broadway musical of the same name: Adonis was the first show to make it to 500 performances, which at the time made it the longest running Broadway musical. The namesake cocktail is lovely, like the titular character, and is the perfect kind of drink to enjoy before attending a musical or other play, as its low-proof nature means you won’t be too cloudy to enjoy the show.
Really, the Adonis is a chance to sample your favorite fino sherry and sweet vermouth—and to find which two mix together the best. These days, there is a bounty of new and old vermouths on the market, from closely guarded historic recipes to hip new styles made across the world. Sherry is still relatively constrained to Spanish winemakers, but there is variety there, as well. Fino is a very dry, very light style of the fortified wine. Swapping it for a manzanilla sherry can also work, as the two styles are similar.
The Adonis is sometimes made with a few dashes of orange bitters, so feel free to add those if the drink needs more depth. Keeping the bitters and swapping the sweet vermouth for dry brings it very close to being a Bamboo cocktail, another low-proof, equal parts libation from the late 19th century.
- 1 1/2 ounces fino sherry
- 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
- Garnish: orange peel
Add the fino sherry and the sweet vermouth to a mixing glass filled with ice, and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Garnish with an orange peel.