How To Make the Perfect Rebujito
I'm going to make a bet. I bet almost none of you have ever heard of the rebujito.
Perhaps you have tired a gin-tonic, Spanish style. Or maybe you have even had a kalimotxo, after reading about it in The New York Times or visiting Boise, Idaho. Well, the rebujito is the Southern cousin of the kalimotxo...while up North warming red wine is the base alcohol, in the South they start with sherry, which originates in the Southern province of Cadiz.
When to Rebujito
Rebujito is the diminutive of rebujo, which can mean a 'tangle' or a 'badly wrapped package'. But this cocktail is far from a mess: starting with the base of sherry, a lemon-lime soda is added along with some mint, mixed and served, mostly in the spring and summer fiestas del pueblo, or village festivals.
José Ferrer is a sherry expert and wine columnist for El Mundo.
For him, the secret to the rebujito lies in its capacity to refresh: “The famous spring festivals of Seville and Jerez are celebrated in April and May, when temperatures reach above 80º. They are basically one long socializing session, which means continuous toasting. The rebujito is a great ally—it cuts your alcohol intake while helping combat the heat.”
The History of the Rebujito
According to Ferrer, it's common belief that the rebujito originated among the English visitors to the South and one of their beloved cocktails, the Sherry Cobbler. The Sherry Cobbler was a pre-industrial soda version: sherry, lemon juice, sugar, and seltzer.
However, Ferrer tells us that in Spain the drink really caught on as late as the 1980s, as a party drink. He recommends using a good fino sherry, such as Tío Pepe, or a manzanilla, such as Solear. But always, always a Fino or Manzanilla, as the Oloroso or Amontillado sherries can be quite dark and strong. He confided to me that he often subs the lemon-lime soda for tonic water, and the mint for lemon peel, to make a sherry-tonic that he swears by as super refreshing, dry, and slightly bitter.
This recipe was originally part of an article I wrote for the Reno Gazette Journal about classic Spanish mixed drinks.
the perfect Rebujito
2 oz manzanilla sherry
4 oz 7up or Sprite
Add sherry to a pitcher full of ice. Add a few sprigs of mint and then mix in soft drink. Stir, then serve (without ice, to avoid watering down) in individual glasses with a sprig of mint. For a drier, more bitter version, Ferrer recommends subbing tonic water for the soft drink and garnishing with a lemon peel. Makes one drink.