Reverse Martini w/Channing Daughters Rose Vermouth

I just spent an hour writing a florid ode to Channing Daughters winery (and Wolffer Estates and the breweries Long Ireland and Crooked Ladder). However, WordPress had other ideas, and the whole thing was lost to the annals of the internet. In the spirit (no pun intended) of cocktails and convivial imbibing, I’m choosing to take a deep breath and drink a martini instead of losing my shit.

20170730_174949I made a cocktail that Mr. B didn’t include in his venerable guide, the Reverse Martini, to showcase this super-special rose vermouth. Made with rose wine, this vermouth is a unique sweet/dry hybrid, with honey notes, but extreme, bracing herbaceous-ness. The drink is really just a traditional martini with the ratios reversed. As you know, Chris hates martinis, but said this drink was just “good-on-good” and would be like a “25-dollar cocktail” at a bar. I used Hendricks Gin, so he’s probably right. It’s stunning: complex, sharp, and floral. It’s also pretty in the new cocktail glasses we bought at Good Ground Antique Center in downtown Hampton Bays, where my extended family has been vacationing for around 15 years. 20170730_175157

Check out pics from the boozy parts of our family vacation below:

 

 

 

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Bronx Terrace Cocktail (p. 18)

When we decided to move, we had a list of hopes for our new apartment: a bigger kitchen, an elevator, a super, laundry, outdoor space. We got everything but the outdoor space.  A terrace, in particular, sounds like a dream. To watch the city unfold below from a lofty perch seems so luxuriant. I’ll have to settle for this cocktail. 20170722_171142

Recipe as written:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Dry Gin
  • 1 1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 3 oz. cocktail glass. Add a cherry.

Notes on Prep: After using our cheap hooch in one-too-many liquor forward cocktails, we’ve learned our lesson. This one was made with Hendricks. We used standard Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth, bottled lime juice (don’t judge! our limes went bad and we’re headed out of town), and our own cherries.

20170722_171829Liz’s Take: I’d drink this on a terrace. It feels like an outside drink: bracing, tart, and summery. I’m surprised by how different this tastes from a standard martini. The lime does a great deal to this cocktail: it reminds you that dry vermouth is a fortified wine, highlighting the sugar in the base alcohol, and it contrasts beautifully with the herbacious Hendricks. This is a new favorite. I want to stop writing and keep drinking.

Chris’s Take: I had a conversation with Liz’s brother yesterday, and the conversation naturally turned to cocktails. Feeling like the pompous know-it-all I usually am at parties, I argued that there were only two kinds of cocktails. There are cocktails designed to cover up the taste of liquor. This is your appletini/creamsicle cocktail. Tiki drinks can easily fall into this category. The intent is to get three sheets as painlessly as possible. Generally, you’re really just delaying it until the next day. This drink is the other kind, the kind that works better if you use something decent. It’ll highlight the good stuff, not drown it out. Don’t give this one to kids because they won’t appreciate it.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy

Price: Medium- this is a gin forward drink; use fancy gin.

Taste: Citrusy, herby, booze-forward

Final Verdict: Liz would definitely order this at a bar, especially if she could sit outside and people watch. Chris would watch it with the lime, as too much and it’ll be dessert.

The Martini: Traditional 2-to-1 (p. 117)

Chris doesn’t like martinis. This confuses and hurts me, and is a schism in an otherwise near perfect marriage. Old Mr. Boston, though, is a man after my own heart. He likes martinis so much he devoted two pages to their preparation, but we disagree strongly on how to make a perfect one. He does, however, have NINE varieties. Poor Chris will have to, at least, sip each one. Maybe he’ll finally see the light. 20170717_195623

Here’s this recipe as written:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Dry Gin
  • 3/4 oz. Dry Vermouth

Serve with an olive. 

Old Mr. B also writes a long paragraph on martini mixing. The key points are:

  • Chill your glass to the point of frost
  • Use cracked (not crushed) ice; it should be dry and hard
  • Measure out the exact ingredients for the number of drinks required (gin should go in first and “‘smoke’ as it settles over the cold ice”)
  • Strain at once into frosty glass

He also provides instructions for martinis on ice in Old-Fashioned glasses. I often sneak some ice into mine, so I like this idea.

Notes on prep: As we learned yesterday, a booze forward cocktail needs good booze. Chris did me a solid and bought me Hendricks, which is my favorite gin. It has notes of cucumber,  and advertises “11 botanicals.” I can’t taste all of them individually, but it’s herbacious and stands on its own quite nicely. The Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth will have to stand in until I get home from vacation with a bottle of Channing Daughters’ superior stuff. I used some old Goya green olives. Someday, maybe, I’ll get my shit together and stuff some decent olives with blue cheese like the master bartender Jukebox Jodi did at Motor City back in the day. I shook and didn’t stir. I’ve had the stirred variety, and it’s never cold enough. Martinis must be ICE COLD to be amazing. Also, I like my martinis dirty as hell, but I listened to Old Mr. B. and left out the olive brine… at least to taste it first. We don’t have glass martini glasses… but we do have a classy plastic one, purchased years ago from Target’s brilliant Halloween collection. I chilled it for about an hour in the freezer. You can totally cheat and just put a bunch of ice in the glass for a few minutes before prepping.

20170717_195847Liz’s Take: I’ve had two perfect martinis. Jodi’s at Motor City (those blue cheese olives are MAGIC) and the ones at the late, great Mercer Kitchen. The Mercer added cucumber and either mint or basil, and I’ve never been able to get the metric quite right. Anyway, this martini is pretty solid. I’ve been using Old Mr. B’s recipe to make these at home since I was old enough to buy myself gin. I sip them faster than I should and always get drunker than I intend, so I only make these a few times a year. I’m eager to try some of the other recipes, since they seem a little less heavy.  After dutifully taking a few sips of this martini clean, I wanted to dirty it up. I like the salty, vinegary bite the brine adds. Again, better olives might make this an even better drink.

Chris’s Take: (Liz note– don’t listen to him. He’s just wrong about these.) Martinis are gross. They taste like battery acid and almost always end in a bad time. That being said, I wholeheartedly endorse blue cheese stuffed olives.

Our Ratings:

Prep:  Easy

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy

Price: Expensive-ish. There’s no cheap mixers filling this one out! 750 mL of Hendricks runs us $32 in Brooklyn, and you shouldn’t really make this with your mixing gin. Sometimes Plymouth or Bombay are cheaper- you can try those. But don’t make this with the Seagram’s. That’s well stuff- mix it with tonic.

Taste: Briney, bracing, herbacious.

Final VerdictLiz would order this at most bars with a decent gin selection before an enormous celebratory meal or at the end of a special night (the kind where we’re taking a cab home, and can fall into bed almost immediately). Bartenders almost always can make these competently, and to your specifications. Liz always asks for hers with gin, shaken and dirty. She’ll have to try this vodka crap, but she’s dubious. Chris never asks for them because they’re gross.

Montmartre Cocktail (p. 65)

Three summers ago, Chris and I spent two beautiful weeks in Spain and France. We stayed in a little apartment on the outskirts of Montmartre during the last leg of our trip, and fell in love with that neighborhood. It’s everything you think Paris will be if you’ve watched Amelie over and over again: we had cocktails at the art nouveau-style Lux Bar on Rue Lepic, an epic dinner of perfectly roast chicken (which the French do better than anyone else), at Le Coq Rico  were serenaded by an accordion player over post-dinner espresso drinks, and walked hand in hand down stepped hills that afforded a cinematic view of Le Moulin Rouge.

This summer has been very Brooklyn-centric. Today, we got nostalgic and decided to try this Montmartre cocktail. Here’s the recipe as written: 20170716_173818

  • 1 1/4 oz. Old Mr. Boston Dry Gin
  • 1/2 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. Triple Sec

Stir well with cracked ice and strain into 3 oz. cocktail glass. Serve with a cherry.

Notes on prep: If you’ve been following this blog, you know we are usually proponents of inexpensive liquors in cocktails. We used Seagram’s gin, Martini & Rossi Vermouth, and Llords Triple Sec. The only artisanal Brooklyn touch were our homemade maraschino cherries. I stirred, Chris cracked ice, and we used our usual old-fashioned glasses.

20170716_174730Liz’s Take: I’m trying to get transported to Montmartre by this drink. The golden hue would certainly complement the Lux Bar, with its dark wood and gold accents. However, our usual liquor philosophy doesn’t quite cut it in this drink. In a cocktail that’s very booze forward, it’s best to have good booze. When you’re mixing in tonic, lemonade, or whatever, the booze gets muted, so it’s not worth it. In this cocktail, an herb-y Hendricks (or at least a clean, smooth Plymouth or Tanqueray) would have been preferable. I haven’t had a good triple sec in some time, but I’m guessing a more sophisticated orange flavor (Cointreau?) would also improve this drink. This drink is fine– it reminds me a little of a martini, a little of a margarita– but it’s not going to transport me back to Rue Lepic, 2015.

TL; DR: Don’t be a cheapo if you’re making a Montmartre cocktail.

Chris’s Take: I’d say pick one good ingredient with a booze heavy drink like this. It’ll usually do the trick. Honestly, wish I had something more to say about this drink, but I’ll probably forget about it after watching Jeopardy.

Ratings:

Prep: Easy

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy

Price: With our cheap booze, cheap! (Seagram’s is about $25 for a giant bottle, Llord’s is less than $10, Sweet Vermouth is around $15) A nice bottle of Hendricks will run you about twice as much; a Tanqueray or Bombay is a good middle ground

Taste: Nose tinglingly astringent (from the gin/vermouth), with a slightly fruity undernote (triple sec)

Final Verdict: Liz would order this at a Frenchy bar, one that has lots of dark wood and vaulted ceilings and chipped mirrors and serves their wine in little glass cups, if they used a decent gin as a base. At the same bar, Chris would probably just order a Negroni.

Froth Blower Cocktail (p. 39)

AOFB_Ale_FellowThis cocktail, we think, is inspired by the Ancient Order of Froth Blowers, a group of affable British dudes who engaged in boozy hi-jinks in the name of charity. According to Wikipedia, Members received goofy cards that entitled them to “blow froth” off fellow members’ beers and that of non-members, provided they seemed grumpy. This seems like a delightful group of fellows, and we were intrigued by the notion of a frothy beverage. We were fully intending to blow egg white froth at each other.  Here’s the recipe as written: 20170715_165650

  • white of 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Grenadine
  • 2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Dry Gin

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 4 oz. cocktail glass. 

Notes on prep: Chris used our new ice crusher (thanks, Loren!) and doubled the recipe. He made it pretty much exactly as written. Much to our dismay, our froth was pathetic. Nearly nonexistent. No froth blowing would ensue in our household tonight.

Liz’s Take: The froth blower blows. It’s disgusting. It tastes like cough syrup. It has the same sticky consistency of Pediacare, which I used to gag on as a child. I am no longer a child, and this will not alleviate my perpetual ear infection symptoms, so I do not have to force myself to drink it. Chris added some ice, a little extra grenadine, and some lemon. That made it almost palatable. I’m still not going to finish this garbage.

Chris’s Take: The only way to describe this is gin, but thicker. I imagine it’s what Winston from 1984 was calling “victory gin.” Nobody wants that. That being said, I’m guessing the eggs weren’t fresh enough to froth up (thanks, Trader Joe’s), but even if they had, this is still unacceptable. There’s no reason why anyone should ever drink this. If forced to finish it, I might just end up believing that 2+2=5.

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Frothless Froth Blowers

Ratings:

Prep: I’d say easy, but we did it wrong– no froth, see?– so I guess medium?

Ingredient Accessibility: Medium. Gin and eggs? Easy. Grenadine? Less so.

Price: Cheapish, depending on how fancy your eggs are

Taste: Thick and cough syrupy

Final Verdict: This one belongs in the annals of cocktail history. It should stay dead. Chris thinks that if it were a genre of fiction, it would be dystopian literature.

 

Whiskey Daisy (p. 106)

We were both hung over post-housewarming last week, and wanted to make something easy and not-terrifying. Hence, the pretty mellow looking whiskey daisy. Here’s the recipe as written:20170710_192521

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon raspberry syrup or Grenadine
  • 2 oz. Old Mr. Boston whiskey

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into stein or 8 oz. metal cup. Add cube of ice and decorate with fruit. 

Notes on prep: Thanks to my cousin Jon and his girlfriend Kenn for the grenadine, and my cousin Loren for the big ol’ bottle of Jack. This drink is truly a family affair! Also, who has a stein or a metal cup? We used our usual glasses. We decorated with lemon and another of our homemade cherries.

20170710_193450Liz’s Take: Why anyone would put a drink this pretty in anything other than a clear glass is beyond me. It’s the loveliest shade of coral, and the yellow lemon floating in it just looks like happy summer times. Grenadine always recalls childhood Shirley Temples (I drank a ton of these, and eventually want to make an adult version– I’ll write about it), and it’s theoretically a pomegranate syrup, so it’s a little sweet, a little sour. So is this drink. Jack Daniels worked well in this cocktail: it’s light and fairly sweet. So is this drink, though the lemon juice adds a really nice sour edge. I was worried about the sugar, but this drink has balance.

Chris’s Take: So, Liz described the drink as “coral.” Gentlemen, be prepared, because this drink is pink. And that’s okay. I think most guys have dealt with the pink cocktail situation, especially if you’re unfamiliar with every ingredient that goes into fancy drinks. You look at a menu, find a whiskey drink that seems like the kind of sweet/sour/boozy balance you want. It’s always whiskey, because that’s what dudes drink. Then the bartender sets to work, and when it’s all said and done, they pour a pink drink into a dainty cup. They may (gasp) even put a cherry in it. Gentleman, you should drink that cup and enjoy. Let go of masculine misconceptions. Patriarchy hurts men too…specifically by shaming them out of good cocktails. The stuff that turns cocktails pink also makes them awesome. Embrace the pink.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy

Ingredient Accessibility: Medium. Grenadine seems like it’d be easy to find, but we haven’t seen it at any of our local shops.

Price: Cheap (almost free for us, since we were gifted most of the major ingredients, but a cheapish whiskey works fine in cocktails, and mixers like Grenadine are almost always very affordable)

Taste: Sweet and sour, a touch fruity, light, and refreshing.

Final Verdict: Liz would order this at a bar, and will make this at a future summertime shindig. Chris would definitely order this, and not even be embarrassed when it comes in a twee little glass.

 

Housewarming Party

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Photo by Kenn (and SnapChat).

We had friends and family over to celebrate our new apartment, and we used it as an excuse to make (and briefly write about) some of our favorite cocktails. We also got some awesome booze (and booze-themed) gifts. We made some of our favorites: Negronis, Tom Collinses (p. 100), Old Fashioneds (p. 68), and Manhattans (p. 62). Though it’s not in the book, honorable mention also goes to the venerable Whiskey and Ginger. My cousin Loren brought an awesome ice cracker and was cranking out these tasty classics (basically equal parts whiskey and ginger ale) once we were all too sloshed to make fancy drinks. Recipes and brief notes on prep and taste follow. We had a lot of fun at the party and didn’t take a lot of pics- forgive the text heavy post!  (Thanks to my cousin’s awesome GF Kenn for sharing her pics with us!)

 

Tom Collins

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Tom Collins pic by Kenn!
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Teaspoon Powdered Sugar
  • 2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Dry Gin

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 12 oz. Tom Collins glass. Add several cubes of ice, fill with carbonated water and stir. Decorate with slice of lemon, orange, and cherry. Serve with straws. 

Notes: Tom Collinses are one of my favorite summer drinks. They’re light, refreshing, and super easy to throw together. Since I was serving a crowd, rather than make simple syrup and juice lemons, I bought a good quality lemonade at Trader Joe’s (it was just lemon, sugar, and water- don’t skimp and use the powdered crap). I served mine with ice cubes I filled with mint and lemon slices. I don’t like cherries in my TC’s, so I skipped them. I also didn’t bother to pre-batch this cocktail since our party was open house style, though Food52 has this great guide to making big punches/pre-mixed drinks, if you’re throwing a more conventional party.

Old Fashioned

Mr. Boston begins this recipe with a note (this is a first): Use Old Fashioned cocktail glass. (After Googling, I now realize these are what we basically use for everything.)

  • 1/2 lump of sugar
  • 2 dashes bitters

Add enough water to cover sugar and muddle well. 

  • 1 cube of ice
  • 2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Whiskey

Stir well. Add twist of lemon rind and drop in glass. Decorate with slice of orange, lemon, and a cherry. Serve with stirring rod. 

Notes: After a few drinks, Chris was feeling generous, and offered to make a couple of friends these drinks. He used our Old Overholt, and muddled the bitters with a sugar cube. He actually did peel some lemon rind and decorate the glass with lemon and a cherry, but neglected to a take a picture. Just trust us. Old Fashioneds are delicious, and nice to serve for people who want to feel like Don Draper, but like their drinks a touch sweet.

Manhattan

  • 1 dash bitters
  • 3/4 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 1/2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Whiskey

Stir well with cracked ice and strain into 3 oz. cocktail glass. Serve with a cherry. 

Notes: We like these better than Old Fashioneds. They’re easier to make and a little bit drier. I think Chris made these as a second drink for the Old Fashioned drinkers. Nobody complained.

We also invited our friends to look through the guide and make whatever they wanted.  My friend Katie was the only one to take us up on the challenge, and she made herself a Twister (p. 101). Here’s that recipe as written:

Twister

  • 2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Vodka
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

Pour into 12 oz. Tom Collins glass. Add several cubes of ice, drop rind into glass. Fill with Seven-Up and stir well.

Notes: We didn’t have Seven-Up (we’re kind of snobby anti-soda people), but we had a lemon-lime seltzer, which I think is close enough. We used Tito’s Vodka because it’s not gross. Do you really need a review of vodka and soda with lime? Come on.

20170710_192608Also, here’s a I took picture of some amazing Lagavulin 16, an outrageously good single-malt scotch, that our friend Tom got us because he rules. This will never, ever be mixed with cocktails. It needs nothing, though I think an ice cube is a welcome addition.

The jigger in front of Mr. Skull was another amazing gift from our friend Katy and her husband- it has classic cocktail recipes in the handle!

 

 

Apple Blow Fizz (p. 3)

The 4th of July is over and all the teachers suffering through summer school are back at work. We spent the morning walking around the lake in Prospect Park, had a lingering lunch at the local Mexican place, and Liz took a nap. This is summertime bliss, and it called for something celebratory. According to Mr. B., fizzes are “an early morning, midafternoon, or evening pleasure” (so, good all day). We drank ours at standard pre-dinner cocktail hour.

20170705_182831Recipe as written:

  • White of 1 Egg
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 Teaspoon Powdered Sugar
  • 2 oz. Apple Brandy

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 8 oz. highball glass. Fill with carbonated water.

Notes on Prep: We used the cheapest apple brandy (E&J’s) because, seriously? When are we going to use stuff this except in this project? It smells (and tastes) like green apple Jolly Ranchers. Aside from separating the egg yolks and whites, which is easier than it seems, this recipe is simple. We also used RealLemon juice. Google says one lemon has 2 tbsp. of juice, so we went with that measurement.

20170705_183455Liz’s Take: I was impressed by the foamy head that built up when we topped the drink off with carbonated water. It did have the nice look I’ve come to expect when I order fancy egg-white drinks at cocktail bars. However, the Jolly Rancher smell is really hard to overcome. When I hold my breath, this is almost not too sweet. The lemon comes through a little…  but it’s still too sweet. Why, apple brandy? Why?

Chris’s Take: When we set out on this project, a lot of people clucked their tongues and told us that it was going to be expensive. This drink proves that those people are stupid. The E&J Apple Brandy is terrible hooch, eight bucks a bottle, but the cocktail is fancy enough to satisfy all but the most discerning drinkers (meaning Liz). I would make this on a warm summer night, maybe for dessert. Right out of the shaker, it has a ridiculous, lemon meringue quality, which is bound to impress. Those with a sweet tooth will be thrilled.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Medium

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy!

Price: Medium. The Apple Brandy cost $8, but throwing away the yolks of our pricey cage-free, organic eggs was a bit wasteful. We shoulda figured out a recipe for those leftovers.

Taste: Sweet, crisp, lightly fizzy.

Final Take: Liz is sold on the egg white-in-a-drink concept, but not the apple brandy concept. This is way too sweet. Chris thinks any recipe that can turn gutter-drunk sauce into something reasonably fancy is all right by him.

Between the Sheets Cocktail (p. 8)

In a way, this felt like the first true day of summer vacation. It was a Monday, and we woke up with absolutely nothing to do. It was glorious. We slept in, went to MoMA, had lunch at the Plaza Food Hall (at Piada, which was a favorite of Chris’s when they were both located on Clinton Street on the LES), and took naps. Rum felt like a summery choice, and we were listening to Purple Rain, so the sexy title seemed fitting. Here’s the recipe as written: 20170703_184932

  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 1/2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Five Star brandy
  • 1/2 oz. Triple Sec
  • 1/2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Imported Rum

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 3 oz. cocktail glass.

Notes on Prep: We made our usual brand substitutions (Paul Masson, Llords) and used Bacardi Gold rum. The recipe doesn’t identify whether to use clear, gold, or dark rum, so we went for gold. It’s a nice middle ground: the clear is a bit sharp, the dark is usually quite sweet and rich. The gold is a bit sweet and rich, but still fairly thin, and not quite syrupy. We decorated these drinks for summer with some umbrellas from Pearl River Mart and swizzle sticks we kept from drinks at our favorite tiki bar, Otto’s Shrunken Head.

20170703_185546Liz’s Take:  Despite this being a straight-alcohol cocktail, the liquors balance each other out, creating a super warm, sweet, caramel-y flavor. It almost has a burnt sugar taste on the back end. This is delicious, but I’d only ever have one, because it tastes like a headache waiting to happen. If I make this again (and I might!), I think I’d use more lemon just to balance it out.

Chris’s Take: The hardware we broke out for these drinks is appropriate. This is a drink that you’d find at Otto’s, or any decent tiki bar. I know that the old chestnut is to order a tiki drink begrudgingly, because you’ll surely pay for it in the morning. To be honest, I never really had the hangover problem so much as a so-sweet-you-die problem, so one is my usual limit. I’d say the same about this. If you’re planning on serving this at a party, or bringing some to a party (I would) and you happen to be single, a couple of these and you’ll probably make bad decisions. We all ask questions we already know the answer to, so plan accordingly.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy

Price: Cheap (the Bacardi and Paul Masson are $15 for medium-sized bottles; Llord’s Triple Sec is usually less than $10)

Taste: Smooth, sweet, refreshing

Final Verdict: Liz would order this at a bar if it came in a tiki glass and was made with some especially elegant liquors. Chris thinks it would be it might be more interesting with orange bitters.

 

Sidecar Cocktail (p. 90)

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Front, holding drinks: Daniel, Abby, Chris. (Background: Gilad & Becca giggling)

Today’s post features special guests: my brother Daniel, my sister Abigail, her friend Gilad, and my cousin Rebecca. It also requires a brief discussion of my family. My mom comes from a family of drinkers, but throughout my childhood, my dad’s side limited their drinking mostly to Manischewitz at Passover. My Uncle Rich was a notable exception, and he became my (and later Chris’s) drinking buddy at Stein family events. Then, my Uncle Gary met his fiance Milena, and she and I bonded over bottles of wine at Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. Now, my cousins are finally getting older, and we’re entering a new phase of adult fun. Last year, on our annual family vacation to Hampton Bays, my Aunt Kelly was the most-fun designated driver EVER on winery and brewery tours. Abby and Becca (who are now almost 23) are still talking about how “gross that dill flavored wine” Chris and I bought was (it was an amazing dry vermouth), and I’m pretty sure Daniel still secretly prefers moscato to Sauvignon blanc, but I sometimes put ice in my rosé, so who am I to judge? Anyway, drinking is a powerful social lubricant and, applied judiciously, can improve every family gathering– with the over 21-set, of course.

On Sunday, we spent the afternoon at Smorgasburg, and were all in serious need of something cold and refreshing, so I made my fam a batch of Sidecars. Here’s the recipe as written: 20170702_173720

 

  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 1/2 oz. Triple Sec
  • 1 oz. Old Mr. Boston Five Star Brandy

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 3 oz. cocktail glass. 

Notes on Prep: I didn’t have lemons, so I used RealLemon juice. I was quadrupling the measurements, which was a bit out of my wheelhouse. I didn’t do the best job accounting for Mr. B’s legendarily scant portions, so I ended up having to stir in a little extra Triple Sec and Brandy at the last minute. Still, Chris and I make Sidecars a lot, and I thought these were pretty decent ones. I should’ve added a bit more lemon. Once again, we recommend Paul Masson’s cheap brandy for cocktails. We’ve tested it alongside super-spendy Hennessy; I genuinely think it’s better, and is a fraction of the price.

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Guest Reviewers’ Takes: Daniel said the drink was “definitely smooth” and described it 20170702_173737as “fresh, lively, and a little citrusy.” He also noticed it was “floral.” About halfway through, he added that it reminded him a little of a “ginger health drink.” I wondered if he meant kombucha, but he wasn’t sure. Becca noted the lemony taste and said it was “cold and refreshing- especially good on a hot day.” Gilad doesn’t really care for brandy, but still conceded “this was good.” Abby nodded in some sort of characteristically quiet assent and drank in relative silence. She didn’t finish her drink, but she’s not a big drinker. They all noted that the drink was “strong.”

Liz’s Take: The sidecar is one of my favorite cocktails.  I don’t know why it’s fallen out of fashion because it’s simple to make and delicious. The lemon mellows the syrupy-ness of the triple sec and the brandy, and the fruity notes of both liquors makes this a no-brainer for summertime. This is great served on a lot of ice– it is strong– and it complements a summer picnic or beach day perfectly.

Chris’s Take: I have a tortured relationship to Batman. Specifically, the Batman television series from 1966. I grew up watching it and loving it, and then the 90s Batman came out, and Batman became dark-and-gritty (TM) and so I disavowed the wondrously corny Batman of my youth. But especially since Adam West left us, I’ve been thinking about that kooky show, and it dawned on me that whenever I drink this cocktail (often), I think of Burt Ward’s Robin. First off, just coming out of the shaker, it’s a wonderful, citrusy yellow, like Robin’s cape. And of course, Robin always sat in the sidecar of the Batcycle. And obviously, because this brandy-forward drink is the kind of groovy cocktail everyone would enjoy at the stately Wayne Manor after the Penguin had been put away for his dastardly deeds, at the after-party where  everyone just needed to unwind while wearing elegant turtlenecks. If it’s not clear, I love Sidecars. And Batman.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy

Price: Mid-range

Taste: Citrus-y and refreshing, but definitely boozy and brandy-forward.

Final Verdict: Liz would order this at a bar, but it’s so easy to make at home that it’d have to have some kind of special twist or be part of a happy hour special. Chris also loves sidecars, but wouldn’t recommend ordering them at a bar because they’d just louse it up using expensive brandy and Cointreau and you’ll have to fork over twelve bucks. Just make em’ at home.