While the Bamboo—essentially a Martini with sherry swapped in for gin—has not seen the same boom as its gin- and vodka- based siblings, it has become an unlikely muse for modern bartenders. The 19th-century drink is simple: sherry, vermouth and bitters stirred and strained into a coupe; it’s that simplicity that’s inspired a range of new takes on the drink. “It can serve as a fun litmus test,” according to Karen Fu, who notes that between the different styles of sherry and vermouth and the countless producers, ratios and garnishes to choose from, the drink affords nerdy bartenders a lot of room to play.
But customizing and personalizing the drink doesn’t have to include a laundry list of ingredients if you don’t want it to. Thankfully, the classic is easy to transform. Whether served up, on the rocks or made long, there’s a Bamboo for every occasion. Here are three simple recipes to get started.
At a blind tasting of several recipes for the sherry classic, Chip Tyndale’s was deemed the very best. Like the classic, his streamlined recipe is equal parts sherry (amontillado, in this case) and vermouth; however, the vermouth portion is split to include a small measure of blanc vermouth, which adds more body and mouthfeel to the drink. Finished with a dash each of orange and Angostura bitters, this version of the drink is refreshing, saline and “more-ish,” as Tyndale puts it. “It’s a deceptively complex drink.”
“It’s a very more-ish drink,” says Tyndale.
A lighter take on the already low-proof cocktail, the Bamboo Highball gets an extra herbaceous, bubbly finish. The base of dry vermouth and manzanilla sherry is accompanied by savory, tart flavors from olive and lemon bitters and topped with rosemary- and lemon thyme–flavored tonic water. The lengthened Bamboo also gets a garnish of rosemary and an olive, echoing the contents of the drink.
Bamboo Highball: The stirred aperitif made tall. [Recipe]
This cider-topped take on the classic is a mashup between the Bamboo and the spritz by way of Basque Country. Served on the rocks and built in the glass, the easygoing riff combines a crisp blanco vermouth with an herbaceous, fino-style sherry, all topped with a tart Basque cider. The latter brings an autumnal edge to the cocktail, and a silky effervescence. According to Joe Campanale, the drink’s creator, “it’s perfect for a spritz drinker who wants something a bit more grown-up.”