Classic Cocktails: No Alterations Necessary

Let me share something with you. You know me to be a wine guy, or someone who likes to drink whiskey neat. I really enjoy those things, but we have a tradition that was built over the last few years at Castello d'Ambrosini: the Sunday four o'clock cocktail. After a beatdown of a workweek, baseball games and afterschool activities, we reward ourselves with a good pre-dinner drink and snacks. Get some music on and we are off and running. 

If you are a cocktail-lover and want to know about the classics, you better tell me why you don't have this book on your shelf.

If you are a cocktail-lover and want to know about the classics, you better tell me why you don't have this book on your shelf.

The Best Wife In The World and I keep an eye out for interesting mixed drinks, check our favorite references, and solicit some ideas from friends. But you know what? We have a staple that we can always fall back on when we have too many options to choose from, or if we are not finding anything that jumps out at us.

"Hey, how about a Sidecar?"

According to Vintage Cocktails: Authentic Recipes and Illustrations from 1920-1960 (authored by Susan Waggoner and Robert Markel), the Sidecar came to be when a World War I officer was dropped off at his favorite drinking establishment in Paris after riding in the sidecar of a motorcycle. Feeling cold, he asked the bartender for something to warm him up, and just like that the Sidecar was born.

This is not the time to splurge for the rare Cognac. Keep it simple...and flavorful. Image credit:  Liquor.com

This is not the time to splurge for the rare Cognac. Keep it simple...and flavorful. Image credit: Liquor.com

All you need are three ingredients: your favorite brandy, Cointreau, and lemon juice. These are three items that should always be in your home bar; they are always in stock here. We use a VS-level Cognac most times; Remy Martin VSOP adds a little depth and richness. That being said, rather than use this drink to warm us up, we like it all year round. It's a lively and mouthwatering drink; right after the first sip, we are immediately looking to eat something.

If you have triple sec on hand, that's fine, but Cointreau has the magic combo of bitterness, sweetness, and smooth orangey flavor that adds a great dimension to many cocktails, including a Sidecar.

If you have triple sec on hand, that's fine, but Cointreau has the magic combo of bitterness, sweetness, and smooth orangey flavor that adds a great dimension to many cocktails, including a Sidecar.

What's beautiful about the Sidecar is its straightforward simplicity. Yet there are recipes out there claiming to be Sidecars that use lime juice or sour mix in place of the lemon juice. Rum is sometimes added to the equation. Proportions are messed with that take the drink out of balance (too much lemon juice makes it overly tart, too much booze makes it overly, uh...boozy). If you want make a variant, be my guest. If you want the authentic recipe, just shake up the following ingredients into a cocktail shaker full of ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. As with all cocktails, use the best ingredients you can, but no alterations are necessary.

1.5 oz Cognac (Remy Martin or Hennessy VS work very well)

0.75 oz Cointreau

0.75 oz fresh lemon juice