Saturday, February 20, 2010

Drink Three - The Sidecar

This snow covered landscape has been with us for too long.  I'm all for snow; I'm all for large amounts of snowfall.  I just can't do this non-melting winter.  Seriously, none of the snow surrounding my house has melted to any significant degree since the turn of the new year.

I know I have nothing to complain about compared to my friends in places like DC - but still - I just want some 40 degree days to turn the tide.  Is that too much to ask?

Well, in honor of the snow (not really), I'm going to make the Sidecar - a classic cocktail that was likely first made in Paris.  This is our third drink in The First Six cocktails, before veering off into drinks unknown (it's so exciting!).

I've never had a Sidecar cocktail before, and I'm not really sure what it's all about.  I know that it's main component is cognac.  Cognac is region-specific brandy, in the same way that champagne is region specific sparkling wine.  There are some other rules - namely - the grapes used to make cognac must be "at least 90% Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche or Colombard grapes."

And, admittedly, I just tasted brandy of any kind, cognac or otherwise, for the first time last week. 

I was at the liquor store, buying various alcohol and mixers for the blog, and realized I had no brandy in my liquor supply.  I bought a bottle of Germain-Robin "Fine Alambic Brandy."  I was told to drink it like scotch, which I did.  I placed a small ice cube in the glass, and filled the glass with enough brandy to easily cover the cube (the ice cube was about a centimeter on all sides).  I let the cube melt away into the brandy before taking a sip.

It was excellent to drink.  I found it a little fruitier than the scotch that I'm used to drinking.  It is made from grapes after all.

When I was at the store though, the guy helping me explained that if I'm making drinks with brandy or cognac, that I should use something different, something of lower quality.  I didn't go well quality on you or anything, but did go down a price point.  I picked up some Very Special Hennessy. 

The Recipe

Sidecar

Lemon wedge
Superfine sugar
1 1/2 ounces Cognac (or brandy)
3/4 ounce Cointreau (or triple sec)
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
Lemon twist

Rub the rim of a chilled cocktail glass with the lemon wedge and rim with sugar.  Shake the liquid vigorously with ice.  Strain into the prepared cocktail glass.  Twist the lemon peel over the top of the drink, and drop it in.


You already know that I'm using Hennessy for the drink, but what I haven't told you is that I'm going a bit off script and using Grand Marnier in the place of Cointreau.  You can see the Grand Marnier in the picture above.  I've checked around on the trusty internet to see what kind of difference this might make, and for a novice like me, I don't think it'll matter too much.

So how's it taste...

I'll just say that this drink is dangerously good.  I could down these at a really fast clip.  There's a sweet flavor and a tartness, neither of which is too harsh.  On a warm day, this drink would go down quickly.  It's deceivingly strong though.  It has more alcohol than either the Manhattan or the Martini.  The lemon juice cuts down the alcohol flavors, but each of the contributing alcohols is 80 proof.

I offered my buddy Eric a sip.  He tried it and requested his own Sidecar drink.  It's good, it's very good.  This will have to brought back out in the summer.

Update (2/22/10): I forgot to mention how much this drink reminded me of a margarita, but perhaps less astringent.  I don't know how this drink faded out of fashion.

13 comments:

Tara on February 23, 2010 at 10:10 AM said...

Hmm. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

The Amateur Mixologist on February 28, 2010 at 8:42 PM said...

"Newsletter" makes this venture sound classy - and I assure you, this blog is anything but classy.

With you reading though, we're +14 on the class quotient. :)

Thank you for your contribution.

Leland said...

Not sure I agree with the notion that you should use lower quality cognac in drinks. The cognac is the backbone of a Sidecar, after all, so the important thing is to use a cognac that you like.

For the cocktail geeks out there, though, I'd just like to add that the recipe you've posted is for an "English School" Sidecar. The original "French School" recipe calls for equal amounts of cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice.

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