Barbara West Cocktail
We approach certain cocktails in this book with great anticipation; others with mild interest, the Barbara West cocktail fell into the latter category. I was perhaps more keen than D, having developed an interest in sherry while taking a wine course for work some months back. Yet D, ever the trooper, was assigned the task of collecting the ingredients for this drink.
He returned home from shopping with more bottles than seemed necessary for such a simple libation. At the BCL the selection was limited to a medium dry Australian sherry. Ever the purist, D felt strongly that sherry should originate in Spain, but as he feared he would not be able to find a Spanish Amontillado in our neighborhood and as the bottle was inexpensive, he acquired it nevertheless. From his sack he also produced a bottle of Broker’s Dry Gin. Over the last few months we have amassed quite the collection of gin and I’m sure we could have made do with a product from our shelf, but D experienced an immediate and overwhelming need for the gin with the hat. I may have mocked him for a minute or two for falling prey to such a marketing scheme, but after trying the Broker’s I found it to be incredibly well balanced and have been converted.
Unhappy with his Australian sherry, D popped into a local wine store. Here he found the selection to be significantly superior. After consulting a salesman he selected a medium dry Amontillado at a very reasonable price point.
Our ingredients amassed, the resultant cocktail met mixed reviews. The Barbara West has a nice gin punch, like a martini, but with a nuttiness and brininess from the sherry. It has raisin and citrus notes and is pleasantly bitter. I tasted it before and after adding a lemon twist and found that the lemon oils present in the peel were essential to the drink. I felt an immediate craving for a bowl of olives and could see drinking it with a plate of cured meats and cheese.
For his part, D was not overly fond of this concoction, though this should not come as a surprise as it’s a rather subtle gin-based libation. He declared it to be “surprisingly boozy” and reminiscent of “Santa Barbara in the springtime,” though I’m not sure he’s ever been to that part of California at any time of year.
Barbara West Cocktail
- 2 ounces gin (we used Broker’s)
- 1 ounce sherry (a medium-dry Amontillado works well)
- .5 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake over ice. Strain. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Ted Haigh offers no insight as to the origins of the name of this cocktail, and further research has revealed nothing with certainty. While I could see pairing this drink with certain foods I must admit that the libation is as forgettable as it’s namesake.