People began retiring to Verandas to take their afternoon refreshment in the days before air conditioning because it was the only place where you might catch a breeze and not feel so stifled. These are the days that begat Juleps and Cobblers. Pebble or “cobbled ice” creates the most surface area keeping your beverage as cold as possible. Therefore, you could still enjoy things like Sherries and Vermouths as Aperitifs even though you were beneath the insufferable blanket of summer heat. These fortified wines were usually holdovers from shipments brought in during cooler months. Making the most out of what is already on hand is a Southerner’s best trait.
Vermouths, Sherries, Madeiras, and Ports all lend themselves so easily to blending that they make great bedfellows with fresh juices, herbs, and bubbly delights. Another huge plus in their favor is that they are substantial enough to be the base to cocktails though they are lower in ABV than their spirituous counterparts. Ports and Madeiras are wonderful alternatives to darker spirits like Whisk(e)y and Rums because of their fuller bodies and higher proofs. By contrast, Dry Vermouths and Sherries are great substitutes for clear spirits. Fortified wines have been supplicating the party for a long time.
When paired together, fuller fruits and drier sprits make some of the tastiest libations. The South sees an abundance of fresh produce. Being afforded the luxury of so many delicious fruits and berries means that a plentitude of delicious syrups and shrubs are created to be perfect foils for some of summer’s favorite players like a dry, crisp Fino Sherry or Dry Vermouth. Some great examples of these refreshing beverages are usually something like White Port and Tonic or a Vermouth Cobbler.
All in all, these fortified wines have a long and storied history that is clear to see why they are so beloved in the South. Throughout the centuries, we have been perfecting the best way to throw the greatest parties and these “friends” have been there cheering us on. It is undeniable that the South is hotter and more humid than any other part of the country and yet we still have the sweetest palates. And yet, we find ways to temper that sweetness that is craved through fresh fruits paired with these fortified wines in a way to make the best of what is available. Partnering with low proof jams is always the best idea when trying to win the race in the all day plans game of life.