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The Sidecar (participating in Black Liver Project's Sidecar Week)

When a twitter account starts talking about weekly cocktail concepts, my eyes, ears, and cocktail brain start thinking a few things. How can I participate (without a current bar to work in)? What kind of cocktail variations can I work into this participation? How does the cocktail in focus fit into the fabric of the boozy beggar? When the Sidecar popped up as this week's choice for The Black Liver Project, I had a very clear idea of a simple classic that also makes a great framework for creativity. I don't mess around with shaken cocktails at home a lot, and when I do, I stick to classics and classic formulas - spirit, citrus juice, sugar - the sour cocktail family basic format.

The classic build seems to vary depending on where you look and whether or not the writer/shaker/booze geek is beholden to Cointreau: one of the original brands of triple sec. Generally, 2 oz of cognac or other decent brandy, gets shaken with 3/4 oz of fresh lemon juice (strain it after juicing so it's not full of pulp material), and either 3/4 oz or 1 oz of triple sec. There's a guide to orange liqueurs over at Serious Eats that might not be entirely historically accurate but is informative nonetheless. I generally keep around a triple sec (neutral spirit, sweet and bitter oranges, no color) and a curacao (orange-infused cognac/brandy that should be actual curacao citrus). The two products are ultimately (it would seem from quick and dirty online research) from the same branch of French liqueur production in the 1800s.

Recipe 1

2 oz Copper & Kings American Craft Brandy

0.75 oz fresh squeezed and strained lemon juice

0.75 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

Garnish: expressed lemon peel

(alternate: add 2-3 dashes of bitters, I liked Napa Valley Meyer Lemon Sage Bitters)

Recipe 2

2 oz Copper & Kings Floodwall American Craft Apple Brandy

0.75 oz fresh squeezed and strained lemon juice

0.75 oz Brovo Boomerang Liqueur

2 dashes Fee's Peach Bitters

Garnish: expressed lemon peel

Fill your shaker, add lemon juice then triple sec/curacao/liqueur (any bitters too), then your cognac or brandy. Get wild, use apple brandy even, I did for one variation! Add ice, shake, strain into a chilled coupe. I don't double strain this cocktail, but you could for less ice crystals and a silkier texture. A sweeter liqueur also helps with that, as would 1 oz instead of 0.75, but I prefer my cocktails dry and I went with Pierre Ferrand's Dry Curacao - all I had around at the moment - and 80 proof like Cointreau.

We're not going to get into cognac, armagnac, and brandy here today, as that's a lengthy project. Each would need its own very large post. Start your original version with a cognac or american brandy, and then branch out from there. Try a different fruit brandy (but only the real deal, not sweetened and sugar and colored stuff), perhaps from Rhine Hall. I jumped into this with two brandies from Copper & Kings, their American Craft Brandy and Floodwall, their American Craft Apple Brandy. I also made a variation that I preferred to my original, using Brovo Spirits Boomerang liqueur: this introduced more sugar and body to the cocktail, while the spirit combines cherry, apricot, walnut, cinnamon, orange, vanilla and peppercorn. Very different final cocktail, but a simple one to enjoy in the same cocktail space as a Sidecar.

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