Fortified wines get a boost this weekend

00:00 May 23, 2013
By: Kristal Blue
Coquette's Arawak Cocktail [courtesy of Anne Berry]

Celebrate Sherry Day…and get an early peek at Lucky Rooster on Sunday, May 26, when the new Asian eatery hosts a sherry tasting from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. Sommelier and Lucky Rooster GM Joe Briand and sommelier John Mitchell (of Stella!) will present more than a dozen different styles of sherry.

"It's a wine category that deserves a lot more attention," says Joe. "John and I are especially interested in obscure, small-production sherries."

The night also offers an insight into Lucky Rooster's drinks program, which will feature a sherry flight, five sherries by the glass, and several sherry-based cocktails.

Bar manager Christine Jeanine Nielsen, who's written the restaurant's list, will pour her own sherry-based cocktail at Sunday's event (hint: she'll use oloroso-infused salt on the rim).

Tickets are $50 and include all sherry tastings, as well as accompaniments (cheeses, charcuterie, nuts, olives) provided by St. James Cheese. Lucky Rooster executive chef Neal Swidler may put out small plates, but understandably "his focus is on getting the restaurant's menu ready," says Joe, adding that they hope to host their grand opening by June 1.

Lucky Rooster's focus on Asian street food and snacks makes it a uniquely "approachable setting for serious wines," says Joe. To make reservations for their Sherry Day tasting, email [email protected].

A Byrrh-based cocktail at Coquette. Banned from the U.S. since Prohibition, we only again started receiving French-based Byrrh (the prevailing pronunciation seems to be "beer") in 2012. The aged blend of supple, sweet red wines, mistelle (spirit-macerated grape must) and quinine bark comes full-bodied, juicy and figgy, with a mild dry finish. (As a quinquina, Byrrh is categorized as a fortified wine.)

Coquette's Vincent Heitz wrote a cocktail using Byrrh, renaming it the Arawak after recently becoming the bar manager there. The Arawak joins Byrrh with Haitian rhum agricole (rum based on sugar cane juice rather than molasses), ginger syrup and lime, making for a softly tart and ginger-spicy sipper. It's a skilled example of a cocktail based on fortified wine, a notion gaining traction with vermouth's comeback.

Coquette, 2800 Magazine Street, 265.0421

Lucky Rooster, 515 Baronne Street, 529.8525

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