Every one of my friends rides a motorcycle. Not just any motorcycle. We’re talking, chopped up, quadruple-exhaust, hell raising, party machines. Me, I drive a Honda CR-V, or Civic Recreational Vehicle, for those in the know. I like to keep “four on the floor” so to speak.
Appropriately, the fact that I don’t ride a bike is the inspiration for this weeks Hump Day Happy Hour cocktail, The Sidecar. Not only is it considered an OG classic cocktail, it’s also about as close to riding a motorcycle that I can see myself.
The history of The Sidecar is a bit muddled (no pun intended), but it traces it’s origins back to the Ritz Hotel in France sometime in the 20’s. One fact that seems to hold true is that the name is a tribute to an American GI, fresh from WWI, who was driven to and from his favorite watering hole in a motorcycle’s sidecar.
Now, The Sidecar is simplicity personified. Three ingredients make up this masterpiece: Cognac (or Brandy, more on that later), Cointreau and lemon juice. Some purists rim the glass with superfine sugar and some add a lemon twist. Anyway you take it, this is a beautifully smooth drink that is both sweet and sour in all the right places.
As mentioned the basics here are Cognac and Cointreau, but in the absence of Cognac, a good Brandy does the trick. You can write volumes on the difference between Brandy and Cognac, but the basic gist is this: to be a cognac, brandy needs to be made in the Cognac region of France. Put simply, all cognac is brandy, but all brandy is not cognac. Got it? Me either. Go check out this explanation from the Maryland Bartending Academy. They break it DOWN!
Ok, time to drink…
- 2 oz. Brandy (we used Paul Masson VSOP Grande Amber)
- 1 oz. Cointreau
- 1/2 oz. lemon juice, strained
Rim a chilled cocktail glass with superfine sugar. Add brandy, Cointreau and lemon juice to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Shake in a boston shaker for about 10 seconds. Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with either a lemon wheel or add a twist.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t going to do the sugar rim, but i went for it and I’m glad I did. The sugar really helps even this thing out and I highly recommend it.
I also made one of these with Triple Sec, another orange liqueur. I didn’t really notice all that much a difference so if you are on budget, sub in the ‘sec.