Sidecar

Sidecar, made with Bas Armagnac
Sidecar, made with Bas Armagnac

Following the disappointment with the Aviation earlier (too harsh, too acidic), I remembered another classic, lemon juice-based drink: the Sidecar. But, unlike the Aviation, this recipe is perfectly balanced, with proportions of one sour (the juice), one sweet (Triple Sec) & two strong (Brandy or Cognac). Shaken rapidly over ice, then strained into a cooled glass, the drink has a sharp and refreshing hit followed by a warming glow from the two alcohols. The combination of the two fruits, lemon & orange, are really well matched. I used the proportions as laid out in Tristan Stephenson‘s book, the Curious Bartender, in a classic 1:1:2 combination. Made like this, the drink comes out as a sophisticated relative to the Margarita.

Proportions:

20ml of fresh lemon juice

20ml of Cointreau or Triple Sec (I used Gabriel Boudier Curaçao Triple Sec)

40ml of Brandy or Cognac (I used Chateau de Millet Bas Armagnac)

Glass: 3oz Martini glass, chilled

Shake well in a shaker over cubed ice, then strain into the Martini glass. Without garnish is the traditional way to serve the drink.

Martinez: Dry version

20140712-234205.jpgThe Martinez is a very old drink.  Many regard it as the forerunner to the Dry Martini. It can be found in O. H. Byron’s 1884 Modern Bartender, where  it becomes a Manhattan variant; other stories have it named after the mining town of Martinez. Cocktail historians suggest it ought to made with genever, rather than modern dry gins, as this would have been the drink available in America at the time the cocktail began to appear.

On the face of it, this is simply a Manhattan made with gin. But there’s more to this drink than that, especially in the modernized ‘dry’ version I mixed here.. The dry gin I used, Gordon’s, has plenty of citrus notes, and that marries really well with the herby  notes in the sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso). An added complexity is a bar spoon of maraschino coupled with some dashes of bitters (I used my ‘house’ Bt bitters, as their sour cherry note seemed like a match). The results are really intriguing; it really isn’t just a gin Manhattan, but something else altogether. Frankly, if you didn’t know it contained gin, you might be hard pushed to spot it. Certainly, I wouldn’t omit the bitters or the maraschino, both add important notes to the final mix, and I would use a robust, dry, bitters recipe (Fee’s Orange bitters might be too delicate for this, for example).

Proportions (using a jigger/pony measure):

1 jigger of gin (Gordon’s dry in this version)

1 pony of sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso here)

1 bar spoon of maraschino (La Briottet Marasquin)

3 drops of bitters

Glass: 3oz Martini glass, chilled

Stir all the ingredients together in a shaker, then strain into the Martini glass. Garnish with a piece of lemon zest.

 

Brooklyn: Sweet Vermouth

The Brooklyn: Rye & Maraschino
The Brooklyn: Rye & Maraschino

Tonight, a variation to a favourite recipe: the Brooklyn is based on the traditional Manhattan sweet, but instead of the bitters, a few dashes of maraschino are added to give a more fruity flavour. The combination makes the drink sweeter and somehow less intense, but it is distinctive enough to warrant a whole new name, I think. I have found descriptions of the recipe which include Galliano, but I cannot imagine how that would turn out.

This recipe is one of the ‘Five Boroughs collection’, cocktail recipes that represent distinct areas of New York: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx & the Staten Island Ferry.

My version comes from Schumann’s American Bar, simply one of the best cocktail books published. The recipe  calls for neither bitters, nor a garnish (two things I look for in a true cocktail), but adding a slice of orange hardly seems like a major crime. There seems to be some disagreement as to whether the cocktail should be mixed with sweet vermouth or a dry aperitif (see the notes about Amer Picon, below); I am using a sweet vermouth here – we can try the dry version another time.

Proportions – Schumann’s recipe (using a fluid ounce measure):

1 oz of Rye Whiskey – Knob Creek Rye here

3/4 oz of sweet vermouth – Martini Rosso here

Dashes of Maraschino –  Briottet‘s version, marasquin here

Glass: 3oz Martini glass

Method: Put all ingredients into a shaker with ice & stir until well chilled. Strain into Martini glass & garnish with a slice of orange peel (or a cocktail cherry, if preferred. I think the citrus hit of the orange is preferred however).

History notes: The cocktail seems to originate at the turn of the C20th, in a book called Jack’s Manual (J.A. Grohusko, 1908). Back then, the recipe called for a rare aperitif called Amer Picon, which seems unavailable to drinkers in N America, though still available to us in Europe – Gerry’s stocks it, naturally.

Manhattan: Rye

Simple 3oz Manhattan
Simple 3oz Manhattan

Purists will disagree, but I like my Manhattans perfect – not made to an exact recipe, or served without flaws, but made with a mix of sweet and dry vermouth. The dry vermouth – in this case, Noilly Prat – seems to complement the spicy hit of rye whiskey (Canadian Club), and the small amount of sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso) adds the roundness the cocktail is known for.  A few drops of Abbott’s bitters to add a pleasant spicy, vanilla-ish dimension, and that’s it. Just perfect, in every way. I add one maraschino cocktail cherry, and one that’s had some bitters added to the syrup in the jar to darken it a little more. Another option is a slice of orange peel, but the cherries seemed nicely retro this time.

Proportions (using a jigger/pony measure):

1 jigger of whiskey

1 pony of dry & sweet vermouth

4 drops bitters.

Glass: Small, or 3oz, Martini glass.

Shake until ice cold & strain into the glass. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

Historical footnote: The Manhattan is named after the club where the drink was first mixed in 1874. The Manhattan Club’s bartender was asked to create a drink for a party. The party, in honour of a politician named Samuel Tilden, was hosted Jennie Jerome – who went on to become Lady Randolph Churchill, and mother of Winston Churchill.