As the mercury falls, the days get shorter. And we could all use a tasty cocktail to warm our toes and lift our spirits. For the seasonal transition, I chose to update two classic cocktails (in dire need of makeovers) which best deliver optimal autumn satisfaction: The Stinger and The Sidecar. Both of these refurbed cocktails are simple to produce in your home or pro bar.
The “New” Brandy Stinger
The original Stinger is a simple concoction of Brandy and Crème de Menthe. I don’t know about you, but I’m fresh out – make that long out of Crème de Menthe. I like nostalgic products just as much as the next guy but those grasshopper-themed parties just don’t come around like they used to. So the Stinger was badly in need of a makeover but I wanted to keep the essential flavors. This great, pre-prohibition cocktail is long in the tooth but short on good stories regarding its origins. Muddling is the best way to insert mint flavor and a touch of vanilla liqueur and agave syrup adds sweetness and depth. I enjoy this interpretation and we think that you will too.
2 oz. VSOP level brandy
3/4 vanilla liqueur
Six mint leaves (more for garnish)
Two orange wedges
1/2 oz. dark agave syrup
Two dashes of bitters
In a tall Collins glass, muddle the mint with the orange wedges, bitters, and agave syrup. Fill the glass with ice and then top with the brandy and vanilla liqueur. Pour into a shaker and shake well. Return the drink to the Collins glass and top with a splash of soda. Garnish with a fresh orange slice and a sprig of mint.
Turkey in a Sidecar
The Sidecar is a classic cocktail with somewhat disputed origins. Some insist that it hails from London while others will swear that it’s Paris. However, this Thanksgiving Day inspired variation is 100% American in derivation. Out is Cognac and in is Bourbon, America’s spirit. Instead of the traditional sour mix, we have inserted mulled cider as a homage to the holiday and simply for the fact that it pairs so perfectly with the Bourbon. We added a little garnish of brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice to the rim that further echoes the flavors of the cocktail and the season.
1 ½ oz. quality Bourbon
½ oz. orange liqueur (like Grand Marnier)
1 ½ oz. chilled mulled apple cider
Place all of the ingredients in a shaker with a handful of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass rimmed with a mixture of brown sugar and pumpkin pie spices. Enjoy.
Sean Ludford is a regular contributor to TaylorEason.com. See Sean’s rants and insights at BevX.com.