Welcome all to Cocktail U, where we find something fun to drink alongside whatever was pulled last week from Helen’s recipe box. I went outside of my comfort-zone box this week with a cocktail I’d never tried before.
Seriously lacking inspiration (soon-to-be-out-of-school kids are not the only ones having a hard time focusing this week), I turned to the semi-tattered pages of my handout from a cocktail class taken at a local cooking school a few years back. Said class was the inspiration for this blog segment and I’ve made nearly everything in it save for the Side Car (aka Sidecar).This recipe beckoned as the tart lemon juice and sweet brandy promised to pair with last week’s butter cookies rather nicely.I was not wrong. A Sidecar was a lovely foil for Great-aunt Helen’s old-school butter cookies. And along the way, I learned a thing or two.
First, the Sidecar dates back to the 1920s, an old-school cocktail if there ever was one. Whether it was named after an army captain who rode in a motorcycle sidecar (or rode a motorcycle with a sidecar) OR the term bartenders use for the leftover liquor they pour into shot glasses is up for debate. Doesn’t matter.
What does matter is the second thing I learned: Quality of ingredients. Cointreau is listed as orange-liqueur of choice and triple sec as another option. My triple sec, purchased long ago likely because it was inexpensive, is not a personal favorite. Because I’m frugal enough to not throw away what I’ve spent good money on, I’m slowly emptying the bottle for margaritas and the like. But once it’s gone, I’ll upgrade to a better brand of triple sec or spend the big bucks and buy Cointreau. Most recipes also called for Cognac, a fancy French brandy. The brandy on my shelf is not of that quality, so I’d love to know how this drink would taste had I used the good stuff.Instead of using extra-fine sugar on the rim of the glass, I used a lemon-rosebud sugar I’d found at a farmers’ market. If you can find anything similar, I’d highly recommend it though plain sugar works as does no sugar at all.My plan is to order a Sidecar on a future outing. There are a few local spots that might make this drink, and I’d love to see what they could do with it. That said, I’ll for sure upgrade my brandy and orange liqueur when ready for new bottles.
Our Sidecar was perfectly acceptable and went well with Helen’s sweet and rich cookies, but it would likely be even tastier if higher-end spirits were used. That said, I toast you all with the customary Cheers! and invite you back next week for another go through Helen’s recipe box. Thank you for coming to class today 🙂