cocktail recipes, drink experiments, good cocktails

The Spice is Nice (for Ice)

Every once in awhile I get hung up on trying a specific cocktail recipe, despite a large number of equally tantalizing ones queued up. The Epicé Sidecar was such a recipe: Combining “heat” with “sidecar” sounded great to me. Although it is overall an easy drink to make, it took awhile to achieve the perfect storm of ingredients on-hand with the chance to make it. 

Epice Sidecar half-rimmed with Sugar in the Raw.

The Epicé Sidecar (epicé meaning spicy in French, says the recipe description) combines a simple syrup of jalapenos and brown sugar with pineapple juice, cognac and lemon juice. Since pineapple juice isn’t my favorite in drinks, I chose to use less and compensated by adding a little extra syrup. Nonetheless, the drink just didn’t WOW me. And, yes, I do expect a WOW factor from my cocktails.

Epicé Sidecar

1 1/2 oz Cognac (I used Metaxa brandy)
1 oz fresh pineapple 
 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz jalapeno brown sugar (double strength) simple syrup

Rim half of a chilled cocktail glass with brown sugar (Sugar in the Raw is recommended). Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into the glass. Garnish with two jalapeno slices and/or a small pineapple wedge (optional).

Jalapeno Brown Sugar Syrup:

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup water
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, washed and stemmed

Add the sugar, water and jalapenos sliced lengthwise to a pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes before straining through a fine-mesh strainer. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

Regardless of the anticipation of trying this cocktail, sipping the finished product made me long for the Metaxa Sidecars I was making last spring. I decided to replace the simple syrup in that recipe with the jalapeno brown sugar syrup, thereby discovering a new twist on an old favorite.  Much better.

Metaxa Sidecar “spiced” up

1 oz Metaxa brandy
½ oz Cointreau
1 oz lemon juice
½ oz jalapeno brown sugar syrup (regular sidecar uses ¾ oz simple syrup)

Rim a chilled cocktail glass with fine sugar. Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into chilled glass and enjoy.

Why Metaxa, you ask? After trying a sidecar made with the Greek brandy at two different Seattle bars (Pair and 10 Mercer), I decided to skip the hunt for a good mixing Cognac and embrace the Metaxa instead. Yum.

Cheers, ICE


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