Monday, June 23, 2008

The Sidecar

At least two of my house standards bear a striking relationship with the First World War. Interestingly, as I write this description, I'm listening to Tuchtman's iconic The Guns of August, the 2nd best book on that conflict I know -- and the single best on its origins.

This one isn't named after a gun, so if you have ethical concerns about drinks named after field artillery, relax. Personally, when it comes to drinking, ethical concerns are pretty hard to justify.

Grab a lemon, some Cognac (it doesn't need to be fancy -- I actually use a California-made pseudo-Cognac), and some Cointreau. You'll also need some sugar on a small plate -- no need for Demerara or superfine or anything fancy. That takes care of the consumables. For the service, one standard cocktail glass. This drink is pretty kicky, so you can use one of those fancy zig-zag glasses or anything else a little fancy. No need to stick to ascetic dry martini stemware. Standard shaken drink kit for the rest of it.

Load your shaker with cracked ice. Slice the lemon in half and rub one half over the edge of the glass to moisten it then press the moist top edge of the glass into the sugar so that a nice rim sticks. Squeeze the lemon half into the shaker. Add 3/4 of an ounce of Cointreau. Add 1 1/2 ounces of your Cognac or Cognac-substitute. Shake and strain into the glass.

My favorite garnish is an orange twist -- so I guess you'll need one of those as well. I go through a lot of citrus.

The result is sweet but acidic -- it is a cocktail that feels sprightly enough to drink on all but the hottest of summer days yet has enough body to warm the spirit after a month of solid rain. As with any sugar rimmed drink, you can customize the flavor as you drink. For more bite, drink from the same spot. For more smoothness (is that a real word?), work your way around catching new spots of sugar with every sip.

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