Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Cocktail Buzz Video: The Sidecar { paired with stuffed mushrooms }

Now that spring is here and the mercury is rising steadily, we are starting to crave spirits other than whiskey (thank you bourbon and rye for getting us through the dreary winter months). But we’re not quite ready to sip gin and tonics on a regular basis. That’s where the Sidecar enters the picture. Made with cognac (or brandy, depending on the provenance), the Sidecar is the perfect bridge cocktail to get you through the crazily erratic vernal weather. So whether you’re looking through the window pane that’s getting sloshed by spring showers, or standing on your terrace admiring the piercing colors of the sunset, sipping a Sidecar will remind you there’s balance in the world. The Sidecar, invented in either London or Paris after World War I, is really a perfect cocktail: a little sweet, a little sour, and enough alcohol to make you feel good without having to worry about divulging secrets or asking pecuniary questions of your guests, like how much has your IRA dipped during this economic downturn. And speaking of economic downturns, the Sidecar will not drain your savings: just three ingredients—cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon juice (four, if you include the sugar rim). Any cognac will do, but we prefer Hennessy for its smoothness (it mixes well) or Asbach brandy (it has a deeper, richer flavor). As for the orange liqueur, we recommend the bright, orangy sweetness of Combier. It boasts a light viscosity (and high proof), perfect so the drink won’t get syrupy or too sweet. And when added to the cognac with some fresh lemon juice, the redolence of the mixture always brings an instant smile to our faces. We think there’s sense-memory involved: our minds are flooded with pictures of childhood when our parents threw cocktail parties in their rec rooms.

There were plenty of hors d’oeuvres at those seventies soirees, and the ones which stood out in both taste and ease were the stuffed mushrooms Paul’s mom made. Piping hot, bite-sized, and full of earthy flavor, these little amuse-bouches were always the first to be devoured. There are only a few steps involved in making stuffed mushrooms, but the most important thing to remember is: Buy small mushrooms. You don’t want the guests at your cocktail party negotiating how to bite into this tasty beauty because it’s too big. You want them to be ble to just pop them in their mouths. And our stuffed mushrooms pair perfectly with the Sidecar. We’ve added some rosé wine and saffron to the stuffing to bring out the earthiness of the mushrooms, which acts as a perfect foil to the citrus flavors in the Sidecar. Just make sure you have several batches ready depending on how many friends you’ve invited over.

In the meantime, why not watch our new video presenting the classic Sidecar. You can print out the recipes from this link as well. So enjoy the last half of spring, and introduce your guests to a dynamic duo. Bottoms up!

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