Drink of the Week: The Great Migration

The Great Migration

Today we present the second part of what’s going to be trilogy of posts featuring the beguiling and bewitching new Mariposa Agave Nectar Liqueur. Last week, I discussed the seductive sweetness of the concoction in context with the Mariposa Mojito.

Now, we move on to a sweeter territory with a drink that’s been heavily promoted by Mariposa’s masters over at Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. It’s something like a gin sidecar, but slightly more sugary — that’s not always a bad thing — and using a liqueur that I personally dig more than most. I have to admit the historical connections of the drink’s name have me at something of a loss, however, though it’s clear there was more than one great migration. Some of you might also want to have more than one of the libation of the same name.

The Great Migration

1 1/2 ounces dry gin
3/4 ounce Mariposa Agave Nectar Liqueur
3/4 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4  ounce simple syrup
Turbinado/raw sugar
Lemon twist (garnish)

Rim a cocktail glass with raw sugar — It’s very possible that the plain old white stuff might work almost as well — by wetting the edges and dipping it into a plate full of the sweet stuff. Take your rimmed glass and stick it in the freezer to get it nice and chilled while you make the rest of the drink.

Combine all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. If you don’t have simple syrup on hand, you can probably dissolve some superfine sugar in a little bit of room temperature water and use that instead. Shake vigorously and strain into your now well chilled rimmed cocktail glass.

Engage in the magical process old school/artisanal bartenders call “expressing” the lemon twist which is crucial to drinks like the Sazerac. It involves twisting a very thin — as in rind-free — strip of the lemon’s skin; the act of twisting is thought to spritz a tiny but notable amount of lemon oil into the drink. Drop the skin into the drink and sip away at the sweetness.

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If you like your drink very sweet indeed, you can make the accidental alteration I did while preparing this drink for some cooperative test subjects. Having forgotten the complete recipe, I actually doubled the amount of simple syrup to an entire half ounce — but I forgot about the turbinado rim. That made for a somewhat less complicated beverage that, for me, wasn’t as good as the recipe proper. However, it went really down really well with my willing guinea pigs and might work better for a lot of people who are less frequent boozers.

  

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Drink of the Week: The Sidecar

Sidecar cocktailAllegedly dating back to the days of World War I and Papa Hemingway’s favorite bar in Paris (that would be Harry’s, of course) and apparently invented either by or for a motorcycling serviceman with a sidecar on his vehicle, this is a drink that is being revived more and more often these days. As with most of the other classic cocktails, there is a pretty huge amount of variation in the proportions of what boils down to being a delightfully simple drink. However, after looking at a number of recipes from different sources, there are two basic variations.

The Sidecar (modern day)

2 ounces cognac or brandy
1 ounce Cointreau
1/2 – 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake very vigorously, and pour into a pre-chilled glass. Some bartenders garnish with a lemon twist. Others rim the glass with sugar by wetting the edge of the glass with lemon juice and placing the glass on plate of bowl of sugar. However, serving this drink garnish free in simply a chilled glass will do just fine.

Now, some recipes from less reputable sources might also suggest you could use any brand of triple sec — Cointreau is the relatively pricey “original” triple sec and is drier than the garden variety. After experimenting all week with a cut rate version using a decent but basic brand of the orange liqueur, I’m here to tell you that simply doesn’t work in the above recipe. Even with an entire ounce of lemon, it was way too insipidly sweet if I used the smaller amount of lemon juice for me, and I have more of a sweet tooth than most hardcore cocktail aficionados. Even with more of the super tart juice, however, the darn thing simply failed to come together, which I guess is why everybody in the booze world I respect implies it’s either Cointreau or the highway here.

However, there is an older version of the beverage which is an entirely different story and great news for us impoverished cocktail hounds

The Sidecar (original)

1 ounce brandy or Cognac
1 ounce Triple Sec or Cointreau
1 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice

Again, this is prepared by simply shaking very vigorously and lengthily and pouring into a chilled martini glass.

While this is a bit less stiff than the drink above and in theory should be more sickeningly sweet, the cocktail alchemy seems to be entirely different and the arguably excessive sweetness of the triple sec and the tartness of the lemon juice counterbalance each other quite beautifully with the brandy acting as an effective moderator. I can’t wait to try this and the above recipe with Cointreau. Maybe somebody will send me a free bottle…

As for brandy vs. Cognac, I’ve had Cognacs that were not as good as the inexpensive French brandy (Raynal) I’ve had great luck with on other drinks, but just be aware that Cognac is simply a more expensive type of grape brandy made in a specific part of France. If anyone wants to send me some Cognac, they’re naturally welcome as well.

  

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