DOTW: Sidecar

Posted by Anita on 01.11.08 7:48 AM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**Invented in France during the years of America’s “noble experiment” with Prohibition, it’s puzzling that the Sidecar has yet to take its proper place in the modern cocktail renaissance. It’s a glorious drink when well made, but it does subject the bartender to a little bit of fuss.

As with many simple drinks, the quality of the ingredients can make or break this recipe; Robert Hess does an excellent job detailing the contributions of the various components. But even when using top-shelf brands, you’ll need to do a fair bit of balancing. Brandies vary widely in strength and sweetness, and even plain-old Eureka lemons change in acidity throughout the growing season.

The traditional recipe of equal parts brandy, triple-sec, and lemon juice is very sweet, especially when served in the customary sugar-rimmed glass. Although I won’t go as far as David Embury — who rationalized that a Sidecar is simply a Daiquiri clone, and advocated a bone-dry ratio of 7:2:1 — I do think that all but the sweetest palates will prefer something closer to two parts brandy to one part each Cointreau and juice.

Like many old-time recipes, the Sidecar has undergone a dizzying list of modifications over the past 70 years. Beyond modernizing the proportions, this recipe stands up to a fair bit of tinkering. Varying the base liquor gets you a Chelsea Sidecar (gin), a Boston Sidecar (rum plus brandy), or an Applecar (Applejack). Swapping lime juice for the lemon, or tweaking Cointreau for another liqueur yields even more alternatives.
Mixology Monday 23 = Brandy

For this month’s Mixology Monday — a Brandy theme, hosted by the lovely Marleigh at over at Sloshed! — we took our inspiration from a drink we enjoyed at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen. The menu listed Belle de Brillet pear Cognac in place of the brandy (and you know we loves us some of that). Alas, the resulting mixture was jaw-numbingly sweet, but the concept was just too good to ignore; off we went to the home laboratory.

First we tried decreasing the sweet components: Reducing the Belle de Brillet diminished the beautiful pear essence of the drink, and halving the Cointreau flattened everything out. Starting out from the other direction, increasing the lemon juice made things too puckery. Dispensing with the sugared rim did help a bit, but it seems a shame to lose this sparkle.

At last, we turned to the Clear Creek Pear Brandy (or, better still, its sibling eau de vie in the captive-pear bottle). Hooray! We’d found plenty of pear and fruity warmth without the cloying sweetness.

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**20px.jpg
Le Side-car aux Poires
1-1/2 oz pear brandy
3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz lemon juice

Before squeezing the lemon, rub the cut side along just the outside edge of a chilled cocktail glass. (Resist the urge to dip the rim in water or juice — as you see sloppy bartenders do just about everywhere — or you’ll end up with sugar inside the glass and floating in your drink.) Dip the edge into a plate of sugar, rolling to create a sugar rim.

Shake the brandy, Cointreau, and juice with ice. Strain into the prepared cocktail glass.

Drink of the Week, drinks, Mixology Monday, recipes



Comment by Tartelette - Helen

I am, and nobody around me gets it,a big sidecar fan. When a bartender gets it right I just want to kiss him! The pear sidecar is indeed a great variation. You make me wonder how it would taste with Calvados….:)

Posted on 01.11.08 at 11:00AM

Comment by Hillary

This might be my new favorite drink! I love lemon drop shots, so this sounds even better!

Posted on 01.11.08 at 12:46PM

Comment by Kaitlyn

Hmm, the pear sounds yummy. Can’t wait to try it! Thanks!

Posted on 01.11.08 at 12:58PM

Comment by Jennifer Hess

Ah, yes – one of my favorites. :)

Posted on 01.11.08 at 3:57PM

Comment by cookiecrumb

I swear, if the tree shows signs of fruit this spring, we’ll be tying some bottles on. For you.

I love a sidecar, but I’ve never had one with sugar on the rim. Ick.

Posted on 01.11.08 at 4:08PM

Comment by Cedar

That sounds really good. I’ll have to look for the pear brandy.

Posted on 01.11.08 at 6:53PM

Comment by AppetiteforChina

I love how you make each and every cocktail come alive through history and stories. :) I found you through tastespotting about a week ago and I’ve been hooked. Keep up the great work!

Posted on 01.12.08 at 6:19AM

Comment by Anita

Helen — I think if you made it with Calvados, it would be delicious. The version made with American applejack is called an Applecar.

Hillary — yep, it’s a bit like a grown-up lemondrop :)

Kaitln & Jennifer: Two women with great taste

Cookie: Thanks for the eau de vie. As you can see, we put it right to good use!

Cedar: Not sure where you are located, but the Clear Creek is pretty easy to find on the West Coast and in good liquor stores in big cities. If you can’t find it, other brands will work, but you may need to balance the proportions a bit.

AforC: Thank you! We love the storytelling part of blogging, and we’re glad you found us, too. :)

Posted on 01.13.08 at 5:07PM

Comment by Jamie Boudreau

Two years ago I did a tour of Paris, London and New York. I spent 5 days in each city and visited 125 bars during this time. As I started in Paris, I decided that the Sidecar would be my control drink (and first drink) at each bar. 125 Sidecars later, I still love the drink (when made properly).

Posted on 01.15.08 at 1:09AM

Comment by Anita

Dear lord, Jamie, that’s 5 bars a day. Every day. For 2 weeks! I can imagine doing that in NYC, but finding cocktail bars in London (at least ones that aren’t dodgy chains) takes a bit of doing.

When people accuse me of being obsessive, it’s nice to have friends and acquaintances who I can point to and say: “No, that guy over there? He’s obsessive. I’m merely highly entusiastic.” :D

Posted on 01.15.08 at 7:20AM

Pingback by SLOSHED! » Blog Archive » Mixology Monday XXIII: Brandy

[...] Anita and Cameron at Married…with Dinner took inspiration from someone else’s cocktail-update-gone-wrong, giving us a pear brandy twist on a personal favorite in their Side-car aux Poires. [...]

Posted on 01.15.08 at 7:43AM

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