ONE OF MY FAVORITE WINTER COCKTAILS REMIXED WITH SOME EXTRA MASALA!
If the margarita is the drink of the summer, I'd argue that the sidecar is the drink of the winter. Surprisingly enough...the margarita and sidecar are pretty similar if you ask me. We are just swapping out the tequila for cognac and there you have it- my ideal holiday party beverage. While you can drink them any time of the year, I especially love serving them during the festive season.
If you are hosting this time of the year, this one makes for the best pre-dinner drink or nightcap. Easy to make and beautifully balanced with sweetness and tartness...yet no one is forgetting about the booze. The cognac stands up nicely to a few special EXTRA ingredients. :)
Let's get right into it...I wanted to remix things up and round out the cocktail with the fruity addition of fig, which pairs with the citrus flavor of Cointreau in the most wonderful way. And we didn't stop there...we also have the addition of garam masala. It adds just a little hint of *extra*- giving it a coveted spot on my holiday series this year.
Sidecars are a well-known classic and have been adored for over a century! I love a complex drink but I don't necessarily want to spend a lot of money on tons of ingredients. Cognac is a mainstay on my bar cart and I was so surprised to have all of the ingredients to make this one at home. Even if you don't, with just a few ingredients... you too can make one of the most sophisticated cocktails in my mind! Sidecars make it seem like a lot of work (so sophisticated they are) BUT ARE NOT! They are super easy to make at home. I had no idea and now that I am in the know...you best believe this will be on repeat this holiday season.
As I continue to learn more about mixology and sharpen my craft for The Tash Mashup, I find myself increasingly intrigued by classic cocktails. I feel like they are classics for a reason and it has been fascinating to learn more about the history of these wonderful cocktails, the sidecar being a perfect example. This 1920s mainstay is such a winner and I hope you get a chance to try it! You'll love it.
1-2 black mission figs, cut in half
3/4 oz lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/8 teaspoon of garam masala
1 oz of Cointreau (or another orange liqueur like Grand Marnier or Triple Sec)
1 1/2 oz cognac (I used Costco's Kirkland Signature XO)
Lemon peel, optional for garnish
In a small jar or bowl, combine your lemon juice and garam masala. Mix to combine.
In a cocktail shaker, muddle your figs with the lemon juice-garam masala mixture until well combined and the figs have broken down a bit.
Then, add in your Cointreau and cognac.
Top with ice and shake for 30 seconds until completely cold.
In a coupe or martini glass (preferably chilled), pour. Garnish with a lemon peel on the rim and enjoy immediately!
~ Serves 1
You can choose to double strain, but I loved the addition of figs to the cocktail. Not traditional at all, so please do you! You can also use fig jam (I'd recommend no more than 1/2 - 1 tablespoon) but I'll note it will likely make for a much sweeter beverage. This is not necessarily a bad outcome, but want to be sure to share that with you in advance.
I prefer the taste of Cointreau in this beverage but you can also use any orange liqueur you may have on hand i.e. Grand Marnier or Triple Sec as noted in the ingredients.
Traditionally, sidecars are rimmed with sugar. I opted to skip this step as I found the addition of the figs to give the cocktail just the right sweetness level for my taste. That might not be the case for you so by all means, feel free to rim with sugar using a bit of lemon juice. I'll also note that superfine sugar works best for a rim.
You can omit the fig and/or the garam masala but I think they make for the most wonderful addition to the traditional sidecar recipe. You can also add a bit more of garam masala, too. Garam masala is my favorite aromatic spice blend and is typically used as a final ingredient in most of my dishes. Yes, I also happen to be one of those who believes the perfect Maggi has a bit of garam masala sprinkled on top before serving. :) To that point, I think a little goes a long way in this recipe but feel free to add more if you'd like to taste the spice a bit more.