People are talking about swagger like it’s a new thing. I’m sorry, but if you want to talk swagger, go watch The Rat Pack in action. Back in the 1960s, Frank, Dean, and Sammy knew how to have a good time, especially at parties. It was rumored that Frank Sinatra would walk up to party goers at his shin-digs, grab their cocktail and sample it. If it was watered down, he’d quickly get them a fresh one. While you may not have the swagger of Old Blue Eyes himself, you can certainly drink like him. The Sidecar is a classic cocktail with all the swagger you’ll need, whether out with friends or even at your Oscar party.
There are no two ways about it, the Sidecar is my favorite classic cocktail. I originally started looking in magazines and bar tending books for vintage drinks when it became apparent that I couldn’t find good wine at local bars. I eventually settled on a Sidecar after trying many cocktails with outlandish ingredients, like Chartreuse. A Sidecar is a remarkably simple drink with great flavor, and a lot of umph behind it.
Before we get into the specifics of making the drink, keep in mind that glassware is important. It’s my opinion that an “Old-fashioned glass” works better than a plastic cup any day. Not only does it help you get some of that Old Blue Eyes swagger going on, the fine crystal of the short tumbler enhances the experience of the cocktail. You can find great glass old fashioned glasses at any home goods store. And for added swagger points, go to thrift stores or antique stores and find something REALLY vintage!
After many long discussions with various Spirits professionals about the ingredients to go into making a sidecar, I settled on a moderately priced Brandy. Since it’s being mixed with other ingredients, having a fine Brandy or Cognac really isn’t necessary, unless that’s just how you roll. I did settle on a French Brandy because after tasting 3 or 4 Brandies from various origins, I found it had the richest flavors at the most reasonable price. The other two ingredients are lemon juice and Cointreau. Some recipes call for Triple Sec, but Cointreau offers the same citrus flavors with much better delivery. I also always use fresh lemon juice since it’s easy to get and the lemon stuff in the plastic lemons really don’t have the right flavor.
As you saw in the video, making a Sidecar is simply mixing:
• 2 oz Brandy
• 1 oz Cointreau
• 0.5 oz fresh lemon juice (or approximately 1/2 a medium lemon)
The other key ingredient to this, or any, good cocktail is good ice. Always opt for larger, thicker cubes over smaller, thinner ones. You want the ice to chill the drink, not water it down. Obviously smaller pieces of ice will melt faster and ruin your drink quickly. I’ve had a devil of a time trying to find really large ice cubes that accomplish this. So, break out a block of ice, a pick, and make your own cocktail chunks!
Ordering a Sidecar while out at a bar can be challenging. Few new bartenders know how to make them, though they can easily find the recipe with the smartphone. Brandy, however, is something you won’t find at every local watering home. Some substitute bourbon for brandy, and know that while it makes an adequate cocktail, it’ll be more smokey than the typical Sidecar.
And remember, no matter what you drink, mix your cocktails with swagger…