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Thursday, October 22 Front Page >> Random Rants >> The Classic Cocktail

Sep 10, 2007, 4:30pm

When I drink outside of the home, more and more, I find myself ordering cocktails instead the usual Guinness or Kilkenny. And it's the classic cocktails I like most, but my own way. For instance, I like the classic dry vodka martini (yes, there should be some vermouth in there), but I prefer a potato vodka (Luksusowa, Chopin), 2oz, with 5mls of Nolly Prat Vermouth, shaken vigourously and strained (double strained if possible); and three spicy olives properly drained.

There's a few places in town that can meet this order - Metro (where Barrett Jones works) is one of them, but they have one of the better bartenders in the city there.

The drinks I've adopted lately is the classic Sidecar. Well, not entirely classic. The original, coming out of WWI, was the following:

1 part brandy
1 part cointreau
1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice
Shaken, strained served with a lemon zest twist.

These days, most places don't do the Sidecar that way, and it's a good thing - the 1 part lemon was a bit too much sour for the drink. These days, the normal ratio should be

3 parts brandy
2 parts cointreau (or 3 parts if triple sec at 20% alcohol)
1 part lemon juice, fresh squeezed
Shaken, strained, served with a lemon zest twist.

Cointreau is 40% alcohol, one of the highest triple secs out there - most of the cheaper triple secs are 20% or so.

My variation on this drink in the home is kinda cool, and damned near impossible to get in a bar. The reason? I substitute Calvados brandy, specifically Calvados Pays d'Auge for the brandy. What is Calvados Pays d'Auge? It's an apple cider-based brandy (I mistakenly said it was apple infused brandy - thanks Tony!)... but a bit different from normal Calvados. Pays d'Auge is made from apple cider, with a twist: they actually grow an apple inside the bottle, then add the apple-cider brandy afterwards. How do they do it? They literally tie a branch with a tiny apple as it starts growing into the mouth of an empty carafe-styled bottle, and the apple continues to grow to full size in the bottle. When the bottle falls, it's ready to clean and put the brandy in.

Anyway, using Calvados really adds an interesting flavour twist to the Sidecar. The very hints of apple in the brandy mix well with the fresh lemon, making it an awesome cocktail.

Of course, the drink is just fine when you use a standard brandy - but I've noticed that the better the traditional brandy, the better the drink tastes. Not sure why - there's sweets (Cointreau) and sours (fresh lemon juice) enough to dilute any kind of "single origin" highlights in a premium brandy, but unique tastes still manage to cut through, showing why premiums are, perhaps, premiums.

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