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kvltrede

The Sidecar

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The sidecar was one of the first cocktails that really opened my ideas to the notion of not only "balance" in finding the proper ratios for a cocktail, but also in the importance of using the right/best ingredients.

In that spirit, what are the preferred cognacs for a Sidecar? I'm not happy with Croizet VSOP (too dry?) and can't remember what my previous bottle was that I did like. In general, I prefer the smaller labels over the big corporate distilleries (for just about everything alcoholic, not just cognac!).

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ludja   

It may be big and corporate and all, but I recently made a great sidecar with Courvoisier and Cointreau

2 oz : 1 oz : 0.5 oz (i.e. 4:2:1)

and a sugared rim (with no dripping, sticky sides!)

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slkinsey   

Writer and eGullet member Elizabeth Johnson has a great article about the Sidecar that came out today in The Journal News.

Like its classic cousins the martini and the Manhattan, the sidecar is enjoying a comeback. Young drinkers, weaned on cosmos and chocolate martinis, are turning to older, more sophisticated drinks — and finding they're liking them.

+ + +

Cocktail meccas in Manhattan like the Flatiron Lounge and Bemelmans Bar are serving new versions of it, as are such restaurants as BLT Steak, which has a 6 Train Sidecar made with armagnac, and Lever House, which makes a Calvados Sidecar.

"Once in a while you come across a recipe that will literally last forever," says George Delgado . . . "It will hibernate, and sometimes a twist of an ingredient or two will bring it back to life — and that brings the awareness of the original."

There is also a nice section on Audrey Saunders and her popular variation, the Tantris Sidecar. She gives a recipe for a standard Sidecar (Dave will be happy to note the 2:1:1 ratio, and I was happy to note that the glass is put in the freezer to firm up after the rim is sugared) as well as one for Audrey's Tantris Sidecar.

Thanks to Liz for a great article!

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Thanks Sam. I'd been making them at home for years, and was reading along here at eGullet, but when I ordered one at that bar I mentioned in Irvington and the bartender told me it was the second one she'd been asked for in a few days — I knew I was on to something. Audrey's drink and Jennifer Baum's round-up convinced me I was right.

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slkinsey   

Julie Reiner's Sidecar at Flatiron Lounge, made with Hennessy VSOP and GranGala, is pretty cool too.

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Isn't the cherry smash a sidecar version too? I think it had cognac and lemon, anyway. I had that when I went last weekend.

edit to say yes, indeed: from www.flatironlounge.com:

CHERRY SMASH

Brandied cherries smashed with Kirsch Cherry Liqueur and mixed with Cognac and fresh lemon


Edited by Liz Johnson (log)

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slkinsey   

Yea... at some point we get into the whole question of how much does the cocktail have to change before it's no longer a Sidecar. Using GranGala instead of Cointreau is close enough, I think. But the Cherry Smash strikes me as more Sidecar-inspired rather than a Sidecar variation. On the other hand, it's probably no more a deviation than Audrey's Tantris Sidecar -- perhaps less. Here is a link to a recipe for the drink, which seems to contain Courvoisier VS cognac, orange curaçao, Schladerer Edel Kirsch, lemon juice and muddled brandied cherries.

The thing that's so great about a classic formula like the Sidecar is that it can be the basis for so many diversions. It's just brandy, triple sec and lemon juice. Substitute maraschino for the triple sec? You've got a totally different drink. In fact, it's almost impossible to go wrong with some variation of the classic combination of base liquor, orange liqueur and citrus. That's how I came up with the "Eighteenth Century Cocktail" which, while nowhere near as complex or inventive as the sorts of things a real pro like Julie or Audrey can come up with, still turns out to be the most popular drink I've ever thought up.

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eje   
In that spirit, what are the preferred cognacs for a Sidecar? I'm not happy with Croizet VSOP (too dry?) and can't remember what my previous bottle was that I did like. In general, I prefer the smaller labels over the big corporate distilleries (for just about everything alcoholic, not just cognac!).

I haven't tried it in a Sidecar, yet; but, picked up some Germain-Robin Fine Alambic brandy to make an attempt at the original brandy Sazerac, and am really pleased with it for mixing and drinking. Very smooth stuff.

It is also great mixed 2 to 1 with benedictine and a couple shakes of Peychaux (Good Fellow variation).

Erik

(Sorry to repeat myself to the readers of the "Hennesey" thread.)

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slkinsey   

Since Liz put Sidecars in my mind, but finding myself without brandy, I made a variation tonight: an Applejack Sidecar. 2 ounces Laird's blended applejack, 1 ounce GranGala and just unded 1 ounce fresh lemon juice. I'd love to try this with Laird's bonded applejack. Since the blended applejack is a little rough around the edges, I used GranGala instead of Cointreau to give it a bit more roundness. Very nice!

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Why oh why did I forget to pick up pineapple juice on the way home? Now I'm snowed in without a Tantris. Regular it will have to be. Cheers. Keep warm!

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I recently "found" an Old Newspaper article, which refers to the Monkey Gland, but more importantly to the Side-car. The interesting point about this article is that it shows a different recipe to the one listed by Robert Vermiere in his 1922 book "Cocktails: How to Mix Them", and it is only a year after

18 May 1923, COSHOCTON TRIBUNE (Coshocton, Ohio), pg. 1, col. 6:

"MONKEY GLAND" IS POPULAR IN PARIS

New Cocktail Is So-Called Because It Has "Wallop;" "Side-car" is Another

PARIS, May 18.--"A monkey gland in a hurry!"

That's the latest order in Paris bars, not in the hospitals.

A "monkey gland" is a new cocktail which has what veteran bar hounds call an "awful wallop." It was invented by a famous Paris bartender particularly

to attract the attention of newly arrived American tourists.

The ingredients consist of one-half gin, one-half orange juice, a dash of

absinthe and a dash of grenadine, all well shaken together with plenty of ice.

Another new cocktail, second only in popularity to the monkey gland, has been named a "side-car," because it takes the imbiber for a ride.

Two-thirds brandy, one-sixth Cintreau (sic) and one-sixth lemon juice make

up this concoction.

Cheers!

George

http://www.wiki.webtender.com

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Graphix   

heh, a friend at souther wines and spirits made me a sidecar with martell XO, and grand ma. 150, what a treat :-)

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In Seattle, it seems to be a common trend to make Sidecars using Metaxa brandy -- I've seen them or had them them that way at 10 Mercer, Shea's Lounge, Palace Kitchen, Mona's and others. I make them that way at home now too. Something about the Metaxa gives an added depth to the drink.

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Dan Ryan   

I believe Metaxa is blended with wine (muscat) and infused with botanicals. It's an interesting substitute for brandy in cocktails, although sometimes it lacks a little bite. Shouldn't be too hard to adjust the balance in a sidecar.

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Reviving a topic from a few years ago, I'm wondering if my question is answered in another thread. However, I'll ask anyway.

What is the history of the sidecar?

In this thread Splif notes that there are a couple of versions going around since the 1920s but I'm wondering two things: 1) where does it first show up in print and 2) is there any validity to the connection of an imbibing military officer and his mode of transportation?

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slkinsey   

I think the first recipe (for a drink in equal parts) appeared in Robert Vermiere's "Cocktails: How to Mix Them" around 1922, where it is credited to one MacGarry of Buck's Club in London.

The "motorcycle sidecar myth" strikes me as just that: a myth. Or at least something that can't be substantiated. As far as I can tell, this myth originated with Embury. Others may have better information. Me? I like Embury for the technique abnd approach, but take much of what he says (including the ratios) with a grain of salt.

Seems like a fairly straightforward descendant of the Brandy Crusta.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Seems like a fairly straightforward descendant of the Brandy Crusta.

I think the whole Crusta connection to the Sidecar and similar drinks is a red herring--evidence points to the Crusta as an evolutionary dead end, a fancy cocktail with a citrus accent that we may never have even noticed much if it hadn't cought Jerry Thomas' fancy. I'd be very curious how popular these drinks actually were in their heyday.

As far as the actual parentage of the Sidecar (and Margarita), I think Mr. Wondrich makes an extremely compelling case in Imbibe for thos drinks being derived from the Daisy, which had no connection to the Crusta in the 19th century drinkmaking paradigm. My copy is loaned out so I can't cite the specific pages or anything, but if memory serves the Crusta was about the booze; a true cock-tail. The Daisy was about the blend of spirit, liqueur, and citrus, which fits the notion we have of a Sidecar today. Once it lost it's leavening splash of soda and began to be served without ice in the glass, then I think you can say the leap to Sidecar is straightforward.

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Re-reading Embury's account, he purportedly knew the guy who invented the drink in Paris referring to the WWI captain story. But he doesn't mention the bartender or the captain by name. It seems he assumes the reader already knows the story. So I'm deducing the myth (if it's that) doesn't originate with his book.

Embury's account is in conflict with what Sam recalls from Vermiere's book (one I haven't read). I'll have to get my hands on a copy.

So I'm no closer to understanding the origins of the name.

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eje   
I think the whole Crusta connection to the Sidecar and similar drinks is a red herring--evidence points to the Crusta as an evolutionary dead end, a fancy cocktail with a citrus accent that we may never have even noticed much if it hadn't caught Jerry Thomas' fancy. I'd be very curious how popular these drinks actually were in their heyday.

[...]

I do think the evolution of drinks from those with dashes of bitters and citrus, like the Crusta and Casino, to the drinks like the Pegu Club and Sidecar with less bitters and more citrus makes sense as a representation of what was going on in drink culture.

And, yes, the style of drinks with dashes of citrus seems to have died out as produce transportation modernized and refrigeration became more common. There was no reason to be so shy with your citrus juices.

It's also worth noting that the most ostensible link between the Crusta and the Sidecar, the sugar rim, is not a feature of early recipes for the Sidecar cocktail.

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brinza   
It's also worth noting that the most ostensible link between the Crusta and the Sidecar, the sugar rim, is not a feature of early recipes for the Sidecar cocktail.

Interesting that you mention that, as just recently I was reading an article describing Sidecars as being made with a sugared rim, implying that it was essential to how the drink is served. That got a raised eyebrow out of me, thinking that that didn't seem right.

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Hi, I wanted to throw my 2 cents in.

I keep two brandies in my bar for mixing; Paul Masson Grande Amber VSOP (a blend of French Cognac & California brandy, recommended by Dave Wondrich in Esquire recently), and Hardy VS Cognac. Hardy sells for about $20 in these parts, and is a very good Cognac-it's almost good enough to drink neat. The Masson is pretty refined for it's $12 price and makes for a very good mixing brandy. If I'm making a quick mid-week sidecar, I use the Masson. For weekends, or when we have guests over, I use Hardy's. Using good Cognac definitely makes for a much more refined sidecar.

I don't think that you can make a good sidecar with triple sec or curacao, IMHO. The alcohol level is too low (some brands are as little as 12% ABV) and there is too much residual sugar in these liqueurs. Cointreau is 80 proof (40% ABV) by contrast and has a much more refined taste than the liqueurs. Unfortunately, it's not cheap. I have found one or two Cointreau knockoffs that are decent, the best of which is Luxardo's Triplum. Triplum is a pretty close Cointreau knockoff and it's $10-$12 less expensive than the name brand while still being 78 proof.

Grand Marnier, or one of it's knockoffs (Torres Orange or Grand Gala) makes for an interesting twist on the classic, though I find that you must adjust your ratios a little bit to compensate for somewhat sweeter taste of the Grand Marnier vs the Cointreau.

Again, just my 2 cents.


Edited by CincyCraig (log)

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I keep two brandies in my bar for mixing; Paul Masson Grande Amber VSOP (a blend of French Cognac & California brandy, recommended by Dave Wondrich in Esquire recently), and Hardy VS Cognac.

I also stock those same two brandies, along with the Kelt VSOP and occasionally the Martel VS when Hardy is unavailable or the price is right. I love both the price, versatility, and balance of the Hardy and while I don't make Sidecars with the Masson, it works tolerably well for many by the glass Jerry Thomas-type punches, Tiki applications, and liqueur making (and I suspect a drinkable stinger as well). It's youthfulness can take a toll in the morning if you're not careful though. Not that I would know anything about that.

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I find that luxardo triplum is not a great substitute for Cointreau in drinks where it plays a major role (like sidecar). Its not bad, but I was trying to save the 12 bucks and it just didn't cut it - and I'm all about finding value booze and not just drinking the expensive stuff because it must be good if they charge a high price.

I've also found that a big bottle of Cointreau goes such a long way, the investment is worth it. I'd almost go as far as saying save a bit of money on the brandy and invest it in the Cointreau.

My biggest problem with sidecars is consistency of my lemons - The sourness/sweetness always varies from week to week. Making sidecars is like making pancakes The first one always ends up messed up, but after making a few, they're perfect.


Edited by MattJohnson (log)

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Making sidecars is like making pancakes  The first one always ends up messed up, but after making a few, they're perfect.

Also much like pancakes, an imperfect one is still pretty good (provided its a lemon issue and not the use of dekuyper tripe sec, christian brothers brandy, and sour mix).

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