'This drink is without doubt the most popular beverage in the country, with ladies as well as gentlemen', wrote Harry Johnson in 1882. 'It is a very refreshing drinks from young and old.' I guess that made it the Mojito of its day.
It certainly left an impression on Charles Dickens, who toured the USA in the late 1840s and wrote in rapturous terms about the American use of ice in drinks - notably the cobbler, which he endorsed in Martin Chuzzlewit (1844): ' "This wonderful invention, sir," said Mark tenderly patting the empty glass, "is called a cobbler"'.
The simple definition of a cobbler is sherry shaken with fruit and sweetened. You don't have to be too particular about your fruit - think of it as a Pimm's - just keep within the general ballpark of lemon, orange, raspberries and whatnot. Pineapple is particularly good.
|3||slices of orange|
|3||slices of lemon|
|1||slice of pineapple|
|5ml||golden sugar syrup|
To make the golden sugar syrup place a saucepan on a low heat. Pour in 2 cupfuls of golden caster sugar, then 1 cupful of fresh water. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. As soon as it is dissolved, remove the syrup from the heat and allow it to cool - on no account allow it to boil. Once cooled decant into a jar or bottle and it should keep for six weeks or so - do give it a little taste before you add it to your spirits if you're in doubt.
For a more winter-friendly cobbler, swap the lemon and pineapple for half to two-thirds of a fig, cut into thin slices, and a heaped teaspoon of pomegranate seeds. Finish with a sprig of mint.
Shake up the fruits, sherry and sugar syrup with plenty of crushed ice.
Pour unstrained into a tall glass, ice and all. Imbibe through a straw, which was said to have been invented for the cobbler.