I wish I knew how to truly savour things and prolong pleasure, specifically when it comes to things that fall under the Food & Beverage category. Maybe it’s an instinct buried deep in my DNA — a by-product of coming from a long line of war-suffering village stock — but I tend to eat with the voracity of a starved wolf descending on a herd of docile elk, and I tend to drink my cocktails with the urgent thirst of someone who has been stranded in the desert for weeks. As if there will never again be another meal, or another drink, or another tomorrow.
Yes, I can practice mindfulness, and I do (well, I try), but it’s always good to have a holistic approach to things, no? As the days get longer and my internal clock switches over to summer, so does the transition from heavy, boozy tipples to lighter, brighter cocktail fare. In the darker, colder months, a stiff and serious cocktail is like a period at the end of a sentence, there to punctuate the end of the day. In the lighter, longer months, cocktails are more like commas, and sometimes the day has a lot to say.
If you–like me–are capable of knocking back a drink before your friends have even raised their glasses for a cheers, then consider befriending some low-ABV cocktails. Certainly, I can attest that they have been tremendous allies to me, especially on days where the drinking starts early and the night ahead is expected to go late. Low-ABV means low alcohol by volume, so the idea here is that instead of storming your bloodstream with the booze provided in your average-ABV cocktail (23ish%-37%ish), you can aim to slow it down to a soft trickle by keeping you ABV total between 5-7ish%.
The Second Serve is one of my favourite, go-to, low-ABV cocktails, which makes sense since it was created by one of my favourite bartenders, Dan Greenbaum. Greenbaum is largely credited for re-introducing the craft cocktail scene to the wonders of sherry. And he’s definitely responsible for me coming around to it. In fact, in the few times I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with him, he’s managed to inadvertently convert me into liking sherry, rethink my stance on blood oranges (I didn’t get them before, but now I do), and introduce me to the wonderful world of cobblers. Needless to say, if I come across a cocktail recipe of his, I’m almost always guaranteed to like and learn from it.
This drink is also a fantastic template for you to riff on at home. In cocktail family terms, the Second Serve is essentially a Rickey cocktail, with a spirit base of 1:1 amaro/bitter (Amaro Montenegro in this case) and fortified wine (Fino Sherry) instead of two ounces of gin. Swap the Montenegro for Campari, and the fino sherry for dry vermouth, and you have a Rome With aView cocktail. Bruto Americano and blanc vermouth will give you a Pacific Coast Highway. Try muddling in some mint, or cucumber slices, or berries, if the fancy strikes you. There is a lot of potential for fun and refreshment here.
How to make a Second Serve
- 30 ml fresh lime juice
- 20 ml simple syrup
- 30 ml Amaro Montenegro
- 30 ml Fino Sherry (or Manzanilla)
- Club soda
Add all ingredients except club soda to your cocktail shaker, fill with ice, and shake for about eight seconds. Strain into a tall (highball) glass filled with ice and top with club soda. Stir a few times very gently with a bar spoon to incorporate the ingredients, and serve.