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Jewish World Review
Dec. 14, 2007
/ 5 Teves 5768
Holiday Cheer, Part II
Last week I left you with the perfect Martini recipe. I hope you tried it, because if you did, you will never make a Martini any other way again. Now sober up, because I have one other wonderful and magical drink for you to imbibe in this holiday season. This week, I have something a little different, a little more festive, and something that your average everyday young bartender may not be all that familiar with the Sidecar.
The Sidecar is another classic cocktail which gained popularity around the late nineteen-twenties or early thirties. According to "The Stork Club Bar Book" by Lucius Beebe, the Sidecar was invented by Frank, the senior barkeep of the Paris Ritz Bar in the early twenties. Frank made the drink with the Ritz's own vintage 1865 cognac and it was considered a "rich man's drink," costing the customer the equivalent of five American dollars back in 1923.
A noble member of the family of "sours" the Sidecar is at once tart and bold with a slight touch of sweetness. The perfect sociable drink for a festive occasion like New Year's Eve, although it is every bit as satisfying any time friends of good cheer gather on a cold winter's night by a crackling fire.
As in every other fine cocktail, proportion is the key for whipping up a proper Sidecar. The ingredients are simple enough, cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice but this is a drink that is especially easy to louse up just about any bar you go to these days will offer up a different version (usually bad) or will simply claim ignorance of it altogether. Much of the time triple sec is used instead of Cointreau because it's cheaper, and ready-made bottled sweet and sour mix is added because it's easier. But this, my friends, is definitely not a proper Sidecar.
I usually pour 3/4 oz. each of brandy and Cointreau and Ĺ oz. of fresh lemon juice into a cocktail shaker, add crushed ice and shake until icy cold. Pour that delicious nectar into chilled cocktail glasses which have been rimed with superfine sugar (use a lemon slice around the rim of the glass to adhere the sugar to it). Lift said drink to your lips and happy days are here again!
There is an alternate recipe for the Sidecar that calls for more brandy four parts of cognac to one part Cointreau and one part lemon juice. This one isn't bad, but I prefer my recipe which doesn't have as strong a brandy taste. Do your own taste test and see which mixture is more to your personal liking. As a matter of fact, I think I'll try the alternative recipe myself this year, since I haven't had it in awhile. Remember, part of the fun of drinking mixed drinks is experimentation. And when you find the recipe that suits you, you feel as if you've made an earth-shattering discovery! And guess what? You have!
The great thing about mixing up these Sidecars for friends is that the cocktail is both unique and grown up. It isn't the latest trendy drink that is being served at every bar in town, like the Appletini or a Hostess Twinkie-tini or some other infantile concoction. The Sidecar is a sophisticated adult drink. Serve it with no nonsense adult hors d'oeuvres, have some adult music playing by Bing, Frank or Ella, and engage in some real adult conversation.
The Sidecar is something different that also happens to be something truly good that will warm the cockles of even Ebenezer Scrooge's heart. Have fun warming your own cockles this season with a Sidecar. Season's Greetings and cheers!
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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© 2006, Greg Crosby