Alright, that last one was exhausting. I worked up a thirst just writing the damn thing. Let's do something quick, simple, and classic. I present the Sidecar:

Two ounces of brandy or cognac (or more, lord knows I won't judge you). Any decent brandy that's been in a barrel works, but I particularly like Metaxa for this, which is a Greek barrel-aged brandy with some added herbal extracts. One ounce of Cointreau. Half an ounce of lemon juice. Pour in a shaker full of ice. If you don't own a shaker, a Nalgene-type water bottle (anything with a wide mouth for ease of ice insertion) works just fine. Shake like mad. Strain into a glass. Drink. Repeat.

It's simple and refreshing. Some people sugar the rim of the glass (to do this easily, do the following before you pour a drink into the glass: dump some granulated sugar on a saucer, cut a slice in a lemon wedge and run it around the rim of the glass, and dip it in the sugar). This significantly undercuts the manliness of the drink. However, I'm not ashamed to admit that a bit of sweetness compliments all the citrus. If you want a little bit of added sweetness without the fully sugared rim, combined with a bit less sour citrus (and you do), replace the Cointreau with Grand Marnier.

Here are some variations. One common alternative is to make it with dark or gold rum, but I prefer doing it this way: make the drink as normal, but then float half an ounce of dark rum on top. You still get the molasses note of the rum (and a strong drink!), but without losing what little subtlety the rotgut brandy you used brings to the table. If you like it a bit bitterer, put a dash of orange bitters in it. I recommend Regan's, although something like Scrappy's or Fee Brothers is considerably bitterer. This is also another good one to substitute the original liquor with something smokier if you like that sort of thing—mezcal and Grand Marnier instead of brandy and Cointreau makes something that combines some dark spirit depth and warmth (the Grand Marnier in place of Cointreau helps considerably here) with the acidic citrus like the original Sidecar, but adds some smoke.


If you want to go back and see what I've suggested before, here are posts 1, 2, 3, and 4.