Cobblers were one of the most popular beverages of the nineteenth century. They brought about the world-wide popularity of the drinking straw. That ubiquitous cocktail shaker? Originally patented as a "cobbler shaker", as this was the first drink to be commonly shaken!
Sherry was hugely popular world-wide before prohibition, and was one of Spain's most famous wines. When the phylloxera plague wiped out the world supply, in the late 19th century, it was a huge blow to the sherry market. It never fully recovered, and sales continued to decline throughout the 20th century.
Sherry is now making a comeback. For me, it's a taste I've yet to acquire. If you have acquired the taste, by all means, you should try a sherry cobbler! Otherwise, a variation using a wine or spirit that you already enjoy is probably going to work better for you.
As I studied the progression of recipes that followed, we seem to have 2 schools of thought that stem from these 2 recipes. Some use sparkling water like Harry suggests, some do not. Most say to shake this one, some say to stir.
In 1895, George Kappeler in his book "Modern American Drinks" decided to list 2 recipes. One using 2 jiggers of sherry, gum syrup and calling to be "mixed", the next using one and a half jiggers, fine sugar to sweeten, and called for the drink to be shaken.
The name "cobbler" is most commonly attributed to pebbled look of the "cobbles" of ice in the drink. All recipes demand very fine ice, shaved ice seems to be the most popular way to prepare, though many descriptions call for the ice to be pulverized to the point where no piece of ice was "larger than a pea".
The recipes share two additional commonalities. They call for the drink to be decorated with "fruits of the season"; usually berries, but sometime grapes, and they called for the use of a straw.
Some call for Maraschino or Curacao to sweeten, this sounds right. Some call for the orange or lemon slices to be muddled, this works if you muddle lightly but a good hard shake will muddle the oranges as well and leave them in better shape for presentation.
The amount of sugar used seems to vary quite a bit. A tablespoon of fine sugar is a common measurement. As much as 2 parts sherry to one part sugar syrup. Others as dry as 4 ounces of sherry to two teaspoons of sugar. You know how you like your drinks, adjust the sweetness accordingly.
By 1922, Robert Vermeire was commenting in his book, "Cocktails How to Mix Them", on how they made cobblers in the "old days". Here I thought it best to literally bring you a page from his book:
Jerry Thomas's book lists eight variations of the cobbler. Harry Johnson also managed to sprinkle eight recipes throughout his book, though not the same eight.
By 1927, Harry McElhone in "Barflies and Cocktails" includes only two lonely recipes. The port cobbler and the sherry cobbler. His sherry cobbler seems a mix of several cobbler recipes, perhaps a "best of the best" in his eyes.
In making any of the Cobblers, the goblet is first filled with fine ice. If goblets are not available an 8- to 10-ounce Highball glass can be substituted. The ingredients of the drink are not separately shaken but are poured over the ice in the glass, the sugar or liqueur first and the wine or spirituous liquor last. The contents of the glass are then churned with a bar spoon until frost appears on the outside of the glass. Straws are then inserted and the drink is decorated with fruit and mint and served.
David not only lists Jerry Thomas's original recipes, but gives great advice on finding the right modern wines to use for arcane recipes with names like the "Hock" cobbler (for which he says to use a "nice Moselle").
Could it be one of the top drinks of summer 2011? It's been a very popular refresher in the past, and it would certainly fit the trend of unearthing arcane gems and dusting off for renewed consumption.
The keen observer may have noticed the bottle of "Sugar Cane Syrup" lurking in the mix. Here's the deal, when you get to the bottom of this one, especially this time of year, a "re-load" is very easy. Simply pour 1/4 ounce of simple syrup over your ice, refill with champagne, stir and recycle that ice! Then again, there's always the "easy" way...
"QUICK AND EASY CHAMPAGNE COBBLER"
"Pull out that julep cup, fill with crushed ice and fruit, pour 1/4 oz simple syrup over ice, fill with champagne."
|I could have just said so to begin with, but where's the fun in that!|