When you need something to sip, but also want to stay engaged in enjoyable conversation with present company, turn to a shim. By definition, a shim is a piece of material used for support or leveling. In the cocktail world, a shim is a low-proof or low-alcohol cocktail, also sometimes called a session cocktail, with much the same purpose. You can enjoy a few and still maintain a level of composure by the night’s end.
A shim might be lower in alcohol, but these drinks carry every bit of the flavor and creativity of a drink that is more potent. They often rely on liqueurs, bitters and fortified wines to keep the alcohol content low. These ingredients are balanced with something pleasantly complex and sparkling to create volume, without contributing loads of added sugar or significantly adding to the alcohol content. This is where cider comes in. Incorporating cider in this style of cocktail offers an elegant, effervescent mouthfeel and flavors that range from sharp and tart to soft and sweet.
Madeira — a fortified wine made on the Portuguese islands of the same name — hints at flavor notes ranging from woody vanilla, nuts and spice to slight funk and acidity, making the punch of earthy ginger from Oregon’s 2 Towns Ciderhouse Ginja Ninja an ideal partner for a low-proof cocktail. A garnish of garden mint adds a finishing hint of vibrancy to both the aroma and supporting flavors. Consider this drink for a daytime sipper at your next brunch.
Makes 1 cocktail
1 ½ ounces Madeira
¼ ounce simple syrup
3 ounces 2 Towns Ciderhouse Ginja Ninja, chilled
Garnish: mint sprig
Add the Madeira and simple syrup to a mixing tin. Add ice, cap and shake until chilled. Strain into a Champagne flute and top with the cider. Slap the mint between your palms then drop it into the drink for garnish.