Thomas Jefferson and Sam Houston probably drank their Madeira straight (and so can you, of course), but the wine—which is fortified, heated, and aged in oak barrels— also makes an intriguing addition to cocktails, as I discovered recently during a series of experiments with friends.

Last month, as I was researching the August issue’s piece on Haak Vineyards in Santa Fe, which makes two Texas versions of the wine using blanc du bois and Jacquez grapes, I met friends for happy hour at Austin’s new restaurant Olamaie, whose chefs had just been honored by Food & Wine magazine in their annual “Best New Chefs” issue. I was surprised to see a cocktail on the drink menu called a Bonaparte’s Retreat, which contained “Texas Madeira, Pimm’s, navy-strength gin, and bitter lemon soda.” We tried it and it was delicious and refreshing—so I made a note to try to re-create it myself, and to give it a Texas name that reflects Haak’s Gulf Coast provenance. —Lori Moffatt

LaFitte’s Retreat

lafitteYou can also omit the Pimm’s and use Mexican tamarind soda for a different twist.

  • 1.5 ounces gin (try Austin’s Treaty Oak)
  • 1 oz. Pimm’s #1 (a spiced gin-based liqueur)
  • 1 oz. Haak Jacquez Madeira
  • Fentimens bitter lemon soda

Combine the first three ingredients in a rocks glass, then top with soda and add an orange wheel.


Lone Star Negroni

lonestarnegroniBecause the flavor profile of Madeira resembles that of sweet vermouth, I tried it in place of vermouth in a classic Italian negroni, too:

  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. Haak Jacquez Madeira
  • 1 oz. Campari

Combine the ingredients in a glass packed with ice, stir enthusiastically, then add an orange twist.



Never Say Never

photo2And because I love the pungent, herbal-y knuckle-punch of Argentina’s Fernet Branca, here’s a recipe adapted from a recipe in Imbibe magazine editor Paul Clarke’s new book Cocktail Chronicles. Clarke uses sweet vermouth instead of Madeira and calls it the Hanky Panky.

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. Haak Jacquez Madeira
  • .25 oz Fernet Branca

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass packed with ice, then strain into a coupe glass. Add a lemon twist.


From the August 2015 issue
The June 2024 cover of Texas Highways: Treasures from the Coast

Get the Magazine

Save up to 62% off the cover price


Sign Up for Our Newsletters

Sign up for magazine extras, upcoming events, Mercantile specials, subscription offers, and more.