Rim a cocktail glass with a slice of cut lemon, covering the outside in the juice.
Dip the outside of the glass in superfine sugar to coat.
Shake all ingredient and strain into glass.
Garnish with lemon wheel.
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Occasionally, when writing about mixed drinks, you’re overcome with the sneaking suspicion that you’re calling someone’s baby “ugly”. Someone, somewhere, somehow. Much as with barbeque secrets, “perfect” recipes for time-honored drinks are subjects best avoided in polite company. However you like your drink, someone else will tell you that, not only are you wrong, your baby is ugly to boot.
Aside from the Martini, there is probably no drink subject to more debate than the Sidecar. Which is odd. The ingredients are simple enough: Brandy, Orange Liqueur, Lemon Juice, and a Sugar crust. The exact proportions and application of the same; however, have forever been contested. Original recipes call for equal parts brandy, liqueur, and lemon juice. Other recipes, including that from the indispensable Savoy Cocktail Book, call for 1/2 brandy to 1/4 each liqueur and lemon juice. My recipe is a slight variation on the latter, cutting back the lemon juice just slightly. Still, be warned that the above Sidecar remains a tart and potent drink.
Key to tempering the fires of the liquid ingredients is the sugar crust. The Sidecar is the scion of one of the forgotten classics, the Brandy Crusta, and from the name alone, the importance of the “crust” should be clearly evident. Some skip the crust and throw the sugar in with the shake, which is a fine idea — if you’re making a Fancy Sour. One truism that pervades the drink community is that if any hair is altered on the dog’s head, the dog becomes, for all intents and purposes, a cat. Many a beverage is separated from its cousin by a mere dash of this or that. In short, a Sidecar demands its sugar be delivered ala a crusted rim.
Finally, the name. Apocryphal lore tells us that the Sidecar comes from Harry’s Bar in Paris; the drink apparently being named in honor of a patron who always arrived on his sidecar-clad motorcycle. Unfortunately, in his book, Barflies and Cocktails, Harry’s Bar owner Harry McElhone gives credit for the drink to Buck’s Club in London. On the other hand, Dale DeGroff likes the simple answer that, in barman’s terms, a sidecar is a small glass of “extra from the shaker” served along side a cocktail. Ultimately, if you’re the type who doesn’t stop until you have a definitive answer, the world of cocktails may not be for you. This is the realm of legends and tall tales, and the Sidecar is no exception.
Variations: DeGroff recommends an orange garnish instead of lemon. A fine idea.