{drinking...} apero

If vintage is in, and who can deny it is, then vintage cocktails made from vintage-style fortified wine is what all the cool kids are drinking. The gorgeous bar crew at dynamite bar Eau de Vie in Darlinghurst met me and a bevy of drink writers and bar-tending guns at their beautiful long wooden bar yesterday to reveal how "apera" makes a great drink.

An apera, I learned, is Australia's newly invented, and now official, word for an aperitif-style fortified wine. Sherry may well have been what grandmother used to drink, but apera is our reinvention of it and its stuffy cousins. Apera ranges from a dry to very sweet style, and is usually produced using a "solera" system, which involves drawing and storing proportions of aged, or vintage base wines from a pyramid of barrels. This is then used as a source of flavours and ingredients to create apera. After fermentation, apera is fortified with grape spirit, brandy or both. But, for our purposes, it's just a really delicious way to make some drinks.

An "apera sour" {pic: top right and bottom left} is a spin on the old-fashioned sour, all bourbon whisky, lemon juice, egg white, sugar syrup, but with a rich sweet apera float to top it. I adored this drink, all sour and sharp and sweet. The neat and simple "crazy love" {pic: bottom right} is an elegant combination of dry apera, orange and vodka. A blow torch over the glass and a squeeze of the orange zest had the orange oils fire up in gorgeous bursts, giving a lovely burnt orange taste to the drink. While this was my favourite, the vote of most-delicious for the experts in the room went to the "apera cobbler". One wine writer explained the notes of nut and the complexity of flavour made this a winner - we used "919 pale dry apera" for this one, Australia's answer to Sherry - and here is the RECIPE for you.

Apera Cobbler

An easy-to-make drink that is refreshing and perfect for warm evenings.

2 strawberries
2 orange wedges
2 lime wedges
2 lemon wedges
20ml dry pale apera
garnish: mint sprig

Add all the fruit to a tall glass and muddle gently with a bar spoon to release juices. Build apera over fruit, adding crushed ice. Stir over ice to mix ingredients and achieve required dilution.