The Sidecar, invented in Europe following World War I, and one of David A. Embury’s six basic drinks in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, is considered a classic among cocktailians across the globe. Just bring the glittering amber to your lips and you’ll soon learn why. The aroma alone is intoxicating: lemon and orange, with a familiar mix of cognac, one of the truly amazing members of the spirit world.
Pairing Sidecars isn’t such an easy task. You want to keep the citrus flavors balanced without bringing out too much of the cognac’s strength. That’s why stuffed mushrooms work so well: the richness of the butter in the stuffing is a perfect foil to the cognac, and brings out the flavors of the lemon juice and the orange liqueur without making it too sour. Add a little saffron and Italian herbs to spice things up, and all the flavors seem to just come together in one small bite.
(adapted by Cocktail Buzz)
1 1/2 ounces cognac or brandy
1 ounce orange liqueur (we like Combier)
1/2 ounce lemon juice
demerara sugar rim (or turbinado)
lemon twist, as garnish
Rim half a chilled cocktail glass with the sugar (you may need to muddle or grind the sugar if it’s too chunky). In a shaker half-filled with ice, add the cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon juice. Shake for 15 seconds. Strain into glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
Tips & Tricks
Finding the right triple sec can be a daunting prospect. We searched high and low until we found the one we thought mixed perfectly with a variety of brandies and cognacs. If you use one other than Combier, the ratios of the three ingredients may need to be adjusted. When experimenting, you can always use teaspoons instead of ounces to sample ratios before committing to a full cocktail.
Rimming a glass is easy. Just take a lemon wedge and rub the outer rim of your cocktail glass (you also can dip the glass in the liqueur if you prefer). Then dip the edge of the glass into the sugar and rotate, gently bobbing the glass up and down so that the sugar sticks to the rim.
Paul’s mom has made stuffed mushrooms ever since he can remember, and her recipe was the inspiration for this perfect little bite-size accompaniment to the Sidecar. Rosé wine and saffron, with a little Italian herbs, bump up the earthiness of these little treats. Make sure you get small baby bellas from the farmers market or grocery store; that way, your guests can pop them in their mouths without any worry. If you want to halve the recipe (as we do in the video), go ahead. If you end up with some leftover stuffing, it’s perfect as a little side dish for your main meal, or a topping for a turkey sandwich.
12 ounces mushrooms (clean and remove stems, reserve stems)
2 small onions
2 celery stalks (remove ribs)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 tablespoon Italian herbs (oregano, marjoram, basil)
salt and pepper, to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon, respectively)
2 pinches saffron
1/2 cup rosé wine
Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. In a food processor, chop stems, onions, and celery until almost pulpy. Add mixture to skillet and brown, stirring occasionally (about 6 minutes). Add breadcrumbs, herbs, salt, pepper, and saffron, and mix until all ingredients are incorporated and the breadcrumbs have absorbed all the butter. Add wine and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Using a small measuring spoon, scoop out a little mixture and dollop onto underside of mushrooms caps. Press lightly to form a dome (do not overfill). Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. If the mushrooms are wobbly, you can cut a little off the bottom using a small, thin knife. Bake for 20 minutes, until mushrooms are cooked and the stuffing has browned. Serve warm.
Makes about 3 dozen stuffed mushrooms.
Did you know that the stems of mushrooms are called stipes?
photos © Steve Schul