Cognac and the classic cocktail- The Sidecar
My exploration of wine led me to branch off to Cognac. My current favorite is Courvoisier V.S.O.P. The aromas seem refined & complex, the alcohol isn't overwhelming; the flavors are again complex, nutty and buttery, but smooth and round.
So this experimentation led us to the discovery of the classic and unrated cocktail- The Sidecar. It's a simple cocktail just 3 ingredients, Cognac (or high end Brandy), orange liqueur (such as Cointreau, Grand Marnier), and lemon juice.
My ingredient recommendations- Cognac V.S.O.P, Patron Citronge (Cointreau is preferred but very expensive) and fresh squeezed lemon juice (and only fresh squeezed, I'm usually lucky enough to get them off my tree).
1 oz. Cognac
1 oz. Patron Citronge or Cointreau
1 oz. Fresh squeezed lemon juice
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, shake well and strain into a cocktail glass (optionally sugar the rim).
To me a Sidecar in these proportions, made with these ingredients, produces a complex drink that balances the Cognac flavors (nutty, almond, butter, smoke, vanilla) against the orange/sweet/sour/citrus of the Citron & lemon. The one ingredient that varies in the drink is the lemon, so allow for some adjustment based on the flavor profile of the lemons available to you at purchase.
I'm interested in hearing about other recipes for the Sidecar or other drinks made with Cognac.
UselessCampers blog- http://the-wine-rack.blogspot.com
The Sidecar was the first great, well-made cocktail I ever had, and the rest is history. Hiccup. I like the 1:1:1 ratio myself. I use Labiette Castille Bas Armagnac, and Cointreau. A nice variation on the Sidecar, especially in the colder months, is the Pear Tree. The original recipe calls for vodka, which I don't care for, so I substitute the armagnac, and it works well.
The Pear Tree:
2 oz. Armagnac or Cognac
2 oz. Pear Juice
3/4 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Lemon Juice
Another great cocktail that I make substituting armagnac or cognac for vodka is the French Horn:
2 oz. Cognac
1 oz. Chambord
2 oz Lemon Juice
I introduced a friend, who previously didn't like cognac, to the French Horn. It was love at first sip. She then stocked her bar with the ingredients and made a batch one night. The next morning she discovered her step ladder under her meyer lemon tree, but doesn't remember how it got there....
I'd go with 1.5-2 oz. Brandy, 3/4 oz. orange liquer, and I actually muddle the lemons with the ice so that you get the lemon oil out of peel. I would not recomend using a high end cognac for this application, you lose a lot of the subtlety of the cognac. I think that a mid level brandy is fine.
Ah, the Sidecar, a truly wonderful drink. I follow a 3-2-1 proportion (i.e. 1-1/2 oz cognac, 1 oz triple sec, 1/2 oz lemon juice, something I consider classical proportions for the spirit-orange liqueur-citrus juice group of drinks. The same proportions work well for the Margarita, the Kamikaze, the Pegu Club Cocktail, the Cosmopolitan...
re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
Yes I prefer the 3:2:1 ratio, but if using sweeter lemons or maybe Meyer lemons, one could increase the amount of lemon juice. I have made sidecars with Hennessey and loved them, but I found a much less expensive cognac called Claude Chatelier that is around $20 for 750ml. Better ingredients always make better cocktails, but I find that this cognac works very well (and really is better than using brandy in that price range). I also tend to make pitchers of sidecars for parties and that would get really expensive with $50 spirits.
The orange is very important. I find Patron too sweet and not nearly as complex and bitter as Cointreau, so I prefer the latter. (However, you are balancing the extra sweetness with more lemon, so that helps.)
Sidecar variations that I love (also made 3:2:1 ratio): Use St Germain elderflower liqueur or Canton ginger liqueur in place of the Cointreau.