Saturday, December 12

Drink Spotlight: The Sidecar

You know, bartending really isn't all that difficult. You see books with hundreds or thousands of drinks (most of which are utter dreck), and you think, man, I could never be a bartender, how could I ever memorize all those drinks? The short answer is that, if you know 10 specific drinks, then you can cover literally 99.9% of the drinks that your common frat boy or sorority girl will order. But for a more interesting answer, once you understand drink families, you've got it made.

What are drink families? Put simply, when you do research the hundreds of different drinks out there, you'll find that they start to look similar to one another. That's no accident; people's tastes may have changed a bit in the past 100+ years, but a good drink is, above all, balanced. Not too sweet, not too sour, not too strong, not too weak. So when you're looking to make a drink that walks that fine line so well, you'll find that some ratios just work. The Sidecar is one such example.

Never heard of a Sidecar? For shame! The story goes that there was a particularly fat captain in WWI who frequented the Ritz Hotel bar in Paris, and did so more often than not in the sidecar of a motorcycle. Whether this actually occurred, or where specifically the drink was created, is up for debate, as is most cocktail history. Somehow stories told in bars aren't always 100% accurate...

But even if you've never heard of a sidecar, you've no doubt enjoyed it's most famous cousin, the Margarita. How close of cousins?

This family, which I've heard called the "daisy" family before, goes like this:

2 parts spirit
1 part sweet liqueur
1 part citrus juice

Which combines very, very well to properly balance the sweet, the sour, and the spirit. As such, the Sidecar is quite simply:

The Sidecar:
  • 2 oz. brandy (or Cognac)
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1-2 dashes simple syrup
Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

As you can see, it's not exactly as described. I've opted to add in a small amount of simple syrup to bring the sweetness a bit more forward for modern tastes. It is still a perfectly delicious cocktail without, but the bit of extra sweetness really carries the flavors. And Brandy in the winter time is just right. Definitely top 5.

If you're wondering just how close of a cousin the Margarita is (at least, as the cocktail was originally invented), you simply swap the lemon juice for lime juice, and the brandy for tequila. Then use the salt rim, the lime wedge, all that. The point being, you know the Margarita will be balanced because the fundamental ratio remains the same, ensuring that your drink will be just right! And if the drink families intrigues you, look for the next few Drink Spotlights, which will each feature an iconic drink from each family.

No comments:

Post a Comment