Missing the recent London Sherry Trail – aka tapas bar crawl – didn't prevent me from taking in the new sherry and cava bar phenomenon that's adding a dimension to the growing tapas scene. Following Bar Pepito, Rosita and Copa de Cava comes Drakes Tabanco in central London. Tim Luther and Nigel Howell's authentic tavern serves excellent Fernando de Castilla sherries from the cask and sells them to take away.
The ghost of ancient vicars and maiden aunts has been laid thanks to fresher and innovative styles such as en rama (sherry bottled unfiltered from the cask). A fresh manzanilla with olives and almonds or fino with jamón iberico is so often an appetite whetter not just for typical dishes such as croquetas and Spanish omelette, but also exciting modern styles of cooking inspired by Ferran Adrià and José Pizarro.
The fact that many of the great sherry bodegas such as Lustau and Barbadillo have decent stocks means that prices for fine sherries make them one of the most undervalued drinks in the world. For refreshingly briney, dry manzanilla, try Morrisons Signature Premium Manzanilla, £5.99, 37.5cl, or the savoury, dry Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla, £7.99, 50cl, Sainsbury's and, in fino, the intensely aromatic and sea-salty-dry Waitrose Solera Jerezana Fino de Puerto, £9.75, 75cl.
Finally, two great palo cortado sherries – a cross between amontillado and oloroso. Marks & Spencer Dry Old Cortado, £7.49, 37.5cl, displays intense flavours of crème brûlée and butterscotch with a bone-dry, nutty flourish, while Majestic's superb new range of Pedro sherries from Peter Dauthieu includes a fabulously rich yet nuttily dry apricot and caramel-toffee Almacenista Selection Palo Cortado, £14.99, 75cl. Salud!