Food & Drink, Libations

For the love of old-school cocktails: The Sidecar

I have been a lover of drinks for a long time.

In the beginning, I loved an Extra Old Stock beer or a rye and coke. There was a whole “Red Dry” wine period, which involved a lot of Talking Heads, Cat Stevens and lengthy late-night philosophical discussions. When my husband Alex first introduced me to his family and their remarkable habit of multiple dinner parties a month, I learned to enjoy nice wines and a pre-dinner sherry, the occasional post-dinner scotch. Alex and I went through an odd and slightly shameful White Russian period. I cringe to think of it now, all that gloop, dairy and alcohol mixed together, with a sweet old maraschino to top it off. Glad we moved through that. Once we had kids, we were lucky if we had time for a cocktail once a month, our lives were on warp speed. Then we opened a restaurant and our viewpoint on drinks changed significantly.

I pay attention to what other people find appealing. I indulge in my own loves but my job is to notice what people want. When we first opened, probably for the first three years, people could not get enough of vodka and fruity vodka drinks. We had crantinis, lemon drops, and pomtinis galore, all served in giant martini glasses and garnished with berries. It was like Carrie Bradshaw was going to walk in any minute and sit down for a girls’ night out. This trend morphed into flavoured vodkas. Personally, I find the idea of Birthday Cake or Cotton Candy flavoured vodka both disturbing and repelling. Fortunately, the zeitgeist has headed off in different directions. Don Draper and his Mad Men manliness has led us back to proper gin martinis and a nice Manhattan. I am really enjoying this shift.

Right now, I’m loving some serious old-school cocktails. The Sidecar dates back to London and Paris around the First World War. It’s a beautiful balance of sweet, sour and smokey for me. I like it served in a coupe glass but a martini glass works well, too.


2 oz cognac

1 oz cointreau

1 oz fresh squeezed lemon

Shake all ingredients over ice. Run a lemon slice around the rim of your glass and rim it with sugar. Garnish the drink with either an orange peel or a cherry.


Danielle Carignan Svenne writes about drinks for Spectator Tribune.