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The American Royale: How to make the sparkling whiskey cocktail from J. Rieger & Co.

If the word “sherry” conjures up images of dusty bottles, cloying sweet wine, and overly-perfumed elderly relatives, you’re not alone. But you might be mistaken.

Sherry, which is added to J. Rieger & Co. whiskey to make it “Kansas City-style,” is a versatile fortified wine that is endlessly mixable, as evidenced by the menu at the speakeasy-style Hey! Hey! Club in the newly opened J. Rieger & Co. distillery at 2700 Guinotte Ave.

Bar manager Derek Branham collaborated with beverage director Andrew Olsen to create a cocktail called The American Royale that shakes the cobwebs off of this little-understood but very quaffable fortified wine.

The refreshing drink made with Oloroso sherry is a history lesson in a glass — it speaks to the legacy of the American Royal while also reviving a “royale,” or a cocktail topped with sparkling wine.

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J. Rieger & Co.’s American Royale cocktail. Judy Revenaugh

But all scholarship aside, how does it taste? The American Royale leverages the best of all the ingredients. The ever-so-slightly sweet whiskey melds beautifully with the almond-inflected sherry. Add a dash of herbal bitterness from an unexpected source, Kansas City Canning Co.’s clementine thyme marmalade, and you have a not-so-fussy drink with significant depth of flavor.

Plus, without additional syrups to make, you’re five minutes from refreshment after a long day. This tipple is extraordinarily balanced — subtly sweet, slightly bitter, and bright with a hint of bubbles. It might just pique your interest in the world of sherry, a rabbit hole that Branham and Olsen are happy to help you explore.

The American Royale

1 ounce J. Rieger & Co. Kansas City Whiskey

1 ounce Barbadillo Oloroso sherry

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon KC Canning Co. clementine thyme marmalade

Dry sparkling rosé

Orange slice

Mint leaves

Add all ingredients except rosé to a shaker tin full of ice. Shake vigorously to pulverize the marmalade thoroughly. Pour the entire contents of the shaker, including ice, into a highball glass. Top with sparkling rosé and garnish with an orange slice and bouquet of fresh mint leaves.

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