The Sidecar is one of the first “grownup” drinks that I remember drinking with great enjoyment; the others were the Apricot Sour and the Champagne Cocktail (each to get their own posts in the future). I hadn’t yet cultivated a taste for gin, and didn’t know vodka martinis with blue cheese-stuffed olives existed. (I’ve made up for both of those failings in recent years.) I liked brandy and champagne, though. A lot.
So did my mother, Eloise. She relished champagne so much that she even drank it with bologna (say it “baloney”) sandwiches. In fact, she claimed that pairing was her favorite combination of flavors. The two of us were very close in that cracking-up-over-the-same-silly-jokes, reading-each-other’s-thoughts mother/daughter way, and after I grew up and left home, we visited each other often. At the cocktail hour, it was our habit to open a bottle of champagne to drink for its own sake, or to make into Champagne Cocktails. If we didn’t choose champagne, we dusted off the brandy and Cointreau bottles, squeezed some limes and made ourselves some Sidecars. Then we’d start talking, and we wouldn’t shut up until bedtime.
In those days before the internet, it never occurred to either of us to research the origins of the Sidecar. But I’ve now learned that, according to Wikipedia, it was likely invented in Paris or London around the end of World War I. And both Wikipedia and Katie the family cocktail authority tell me it’s made with lemon juice—not lime—and that, if I want to be precise about it, what I’m making isn’t even a real Sidecar. Whether I’m being precise, or imprecise, I don’t care. It’s delicious, and deliciously simple. I’m calling it:
THE ELOISE SIDECAR
Sugar the rim of a martini glass by rubbing it with lime juice and dipping it in sugar to coat.
In a cocktail shaker, put:
2 oz. brandy
2 oz. Cointreau
2 oz. fresh lime juice (not bottled shelf-stable juice)
Add ice to the shaker, and shake vigorously for about 15-20 seconds, until the shaker is icy cold to the touch. Strain into the martini glass. Makes 1.
Note that there’s no need to open up the Rémy Martin VSOP for this, even though that’s what my mother and I used to do. Good quality, lower cost brandies are widely available now, and one of those will do just fine. Here’s what I used—Romate, a Spanish brandy—on the recommendation of the helpful man at the liquor store, and it made a lovely drink:
Also note that different martini glasses have different capacities. Mine is a pretty big one (and no, of course I didn’t know how big it was until I got it home and used it <_< >_>). You may have a smaller glass in your cupboard, or you may just want a smaller drink. Since the measurements are equal, there are no fussy calculations to make. Just scale the drink up or down at your pleasure.
In her gorgeous heyday, my mother was a glamorous woman. She wore glamorous clothes, hosted glamorous parties, reveled in glamorous food (notwithstanding the bologna sandwiches) and drank glamorous wines and cocktails. As she got older, the glamorous clothes and parties lost some of their appeal for her, but she never lost her taste for the glamorous wines and cocktails. This was her version of the Sidecar: the recipe that she passed on to me. It may have originated with her; I have no idea. The fact that it’s not completely authentic doesn’t matter at all. What matters is that last night, I enjoyed my Eloise Sidecar with her memory beside me.
I wish you could’ve been here, Mother. It was glamorous perfection.
And for next week, I’m excited to announce my first guest blogger, Diana Conces! Diana is a gifted, award-winning poet and writer. She answered my call to readers for their snapshot memories (see “San Antonio Supper Club: A Snapshot”) with a piece so lovely and heartfelt that it reads like short fiction. Don’t miss it!
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