Kate Gibbs is a food and travel writer, author, cook and new mother living in Sydney, Australia. She cooks whole food that makes us healthy and happy, and travels to find the best in style, food and hotels.

{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.

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