Finding Gatsby in New Orleans: The Sidecar

We rang in 2017 with quite the bang in the form of a canapé and champagne filled soiree accompanied by our delightfully colorful friends and family. Lots of cocktail dresses, delicate flutes and overly sparkly baubles abounded and such sights always make me think of the (admittedly fictitious) parties Mr. Gatsby threw. Imagine it if you will; Gorgeous outfits on everyone, enough alcohol to inebriate the entire country of Canada twice over consumed in a mere evening, and raucously inappropriate music, conversations and shenanigans everywhere the eye can see. It leaves no doubt as to how our favorite cocktails came to be during this time. Speakeasy parties, inconsistent (at best) alcohol quality and dodging societal faux pas led to the creative minds of bartenders coming up with classic recipes still enjoyed the world over today. Down in New Orleans, you’ll find a city that has done its best to emulate the opulence Jay Gatsby captured in those shindigs of the 20’s. The next big, sparkly celebration of the year is Mardi Gras, which (in my imagination Mr. Gatsby would have made an excellent King of the Mardi Gras Parade) takes that 20’s style right into the new century. The Big Easy’s most appropriate contribution to those of us bound by the grey skies, drizzly days and damp cold nights of Seattle’s metropolitan area is the Sidecar.

The culture of New Orleans needs to be touched on for just a second at this point. People of this gorgeous city are known for marching to the tune of their own drummers (particularly jazz, the heartbeat of the whole town). It’s very streets write the story of survival its inhabitants have written. Hurricane Katrina, diseases, invasions, influences from the French, Spanish, African, and Cajun cultures have all come together to make this a city filled with tradition. It is filled with some of the best soul food a home can provide and a restaurant scene filled with creative chefs and bartenders taking these flavors and evolving them into something altogether unique. This mindset isn’t exactly new. The history of New Orleans is as colorful and bold as the gumbo, jambalaya, hurricanes and sazeracs they pride themselves on.

Finding Sasquatch is arguably easier than finding an actual origin story of a cocktail and this drink is no different. As many accounts crediting New Orleans exist as those insisting it came to us from Paris or London. Lots of people tout Harry’s Bar in 1920’s Paris. Others believe it was specifically an anonymous US Army Captain looking to drink cognac in the daytime, (an act which most assuredly had most women clutching their pearls in horror) which led to an enterprising bartender blending the spirit with Cointreau and lemon juice. How this simple act of serving it chilled with a flourish in a coupe glass took the crass edge off this act I’ll never know. Personally I prefer to believe it was at the very least perfected in The Big Easy.

The Sidecar takes these influences and brings them all into the same fully evolved, complex cocktail. There are numerous schools of thought as to which sort of spirit base you should base your drink around. Bourbon, cognac, or brandies are the favorites and around here the classic is timeless. A good Cognac that stands up on its own makes this drink sing.

Classic Sidecar

2 oz Cognac

1 oz Cointreau

1 oz Lemon Juice

Slice of lemon

Superfine Sugar

Twist of lemon (For garnish)

 

Take a slice of lemon and wipe it around the rim of a chilled coupe glass. Dip rim of glass into a small plate of superfine sugar. Combine all ingredients in glass with ice. Stir and strain into glass.

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