by Emily R. See

In a casino bar near Lake Tahoe, I once ordered a Sidecar from
an aged bartender, visibly weary of pouring vodka-Red Bulls and
opening Bud Light bottles. His eyes went misty for the briefest of
moments, before his hands sprung to life creating a cocktail that,
no doubt, they hadn’t made in years.

Indeed the Sidecar seems to have slipped into oblivion,
eliciting blank stares from bartenders barely old enough to drink,
while things such as cosmopolitans and lemon drops are lapped up by
women who have seen too many episodes of Sex and the City. Little
do they know that the Sidecar is the likely origin of more common
concoctions that combine the punch of strong liquor with the tart
sweetness of citrus, the cosmo and margarita among them.

The key to a good Sidecar, or any good cocktail for that matter,
is balancing the elements of strong, sweet, and sour. There are
many variations, and nearly as many bars laying claim to its
invention. The story usually goes that a customer arriving on his
motorcycle (complete with sidecar) one cold evening asked for a
drink to take the chill off. Concerned that Cognac or Cointreau
(which would be good to warm one’s bones) would ruin his palate for
dinner, the bartender added lemon juice to make it tart enough for
an aperitif.

This recipe is from the Ritz Paris, which is a likely setting
for the story. With ingredients like VSOP Cognacs and Cointreau,
it’s easy to see how certain places (the Ritz included) can list
unduly expensive Sidecars on their menus. You can make them more
cheaply; just take care not to ruin your good Cognac with sours
mix. 2 oz. fine Brandy or Cognac 1 oz. Cointreau (or triple
sec) ½ oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well, and
then strain into a 4-oz. martini glass rimmed with sugar. Garnish
with a lemon twist.


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