Monday, February 11, 2008

Mixology Monday - Sidecar Variations

Paul Harrington wrote that "few drinks boast as many variations as the sidecar."
I think this is true. I decided to look through a few old books and see if I could nail down a good formula for this classic concoction.

David Embury is often recognized for preferring very dry cocktails. In his classic "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks" he list this Sidecar:

David Embury Sidecar

8 parts Cognac or Armagnac
2 parts lemon juice
1 part Cointreau or triple sec

This 8:2:1 recipe is very dry and can be too sour for my taste. Embury calls the Sidecar a variation on the daiquiri, and getting into our Mixology Monday theme offers a sidecar variation with applejack
which he calls the Apple Car.

Harry McElhone gives us a 1:1:1 ratio in his 1922 "ABC of mixing cocktails."

Harry McElhone Sidecar

1/6 gill of fresh Lemon Juice.
1/6 gill of Cointreau.
1/6 gill of Cognac Brandy.

This equal parts recipe tastes a bit flabby to me and I think it could be balanced out with more Cognac.

Paul Harrington, who opened up this line of exploration for me, splits the difference and references a 2:1:1 ratio:

Harrington Sidecar

1.5 oz. Cognac
3/4 oz. Cointreau
3/4 oz. lemon juice

Some versions of the sidecar call for a sugar-coated rim.
Scott Beattie, the creative mixologist at Healdsburg California's Cyrus mixes up a
special sugar blend for his Sidecar variation:

Charentes Sidecar

1 1/2 ounces Cognac
1/2 ounce Cointreau or other triple sec
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 orange twist

Beattie's Sugar mix:
3 tbsp superfine sugar,
2 tbsp minced orange zest,
a pinch of ground clove.

Moisten the outer rim of a martini glass with the lemon wedge; coat lightly with the sugar mixture.

Beattie's recipe is a true variation, and he's put his own mark on the drink.

The Sidecar in the Savoy book favors a 2:1:1 ratio like Harrington's:

Savoy Sidecar

1/4 lemon juice
1/4 Cointreau
1/2 brandy

"Here's How" a 1933 reference by Emmett Atherton lists a 2:1:1 formula but throws in a few dashes of bitters.

Here's How Sidecar

one half wine glass Cognac
one fourth wine glass curacoa
one fourth wine glass lemon juice
two dashes angustora bitters

All these ratios, and the effort involved in trying them out, can make your head spin. Rather than proclaim one true Sidecar recipe I'm going to follow the lead of the esteemed Gary Regan in his "The Joy of Mixology," and punt. Gary gives a good starting point and then encourages you to work up your own formula. Here's Gary's starting point.

Gary's Sidecar Starting Point

1.5 oz. Cognac
1 oz. Triple Sec
1/2 oz lemon juice

It's as good a place to start as any. My preference lies somewhere between Gary's starting point and The Harrington/Savoy recipe. Half the fun should be in the journey anyway. You may need a sidecar to ride home in. Have fun.

The Mixology Monday recap will be here at Jimmy's Cocktail Hour tomorrow. I've received a lot of links and seen many great posts already.


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