American Sidecar

Photo by Susan Whitney.

American Sidecar

1.5 oz Laird’s Old Apple Brandy
0.75 oz Cointreau
0.75 oz lemon juice
0.25 oz simple syrup
Concentrated simple syrup & Pop Rocks as garnish

Start by preparing your glassware. Make a concentrated simple syrup with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water, then bring it to a boil. Let it boil until the syrup coats the back of a spoon. Next, carefully pour the syrup onto a sheet pan, coat the rims of your coupes in the syrup, then quickly open one blue and one red pack of Pop Rocks and empty each onto its own saucer. Pour granulated sugar onto a third sauce. Dip 1/3 of the rim in the red Pop Rocks, 1/3 of the rim in the blue Pop Rocks, and the rest of the rim in granulated sugar. Quickly prepare all of the glasses you intend to use, then set them aside.

Next, shake your first four ingredients with ice and strain into your prepared glass(es). Drop more Pop Rocks into the finished cocktail.

Land of the free. Home of the brave. Cradle of the cocktail. That’s my America. And for the Fourth of July, I’m celebrating with an American twist on a classic cocktail, the Sidecar, by substituting Laird’s Old Apple Brandy for the cognac. Apple brandy is the original American spirit, dating back to colonial times, and Robert Laird provided apple brandy to George Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War. You can’t get much more American than that. At least, not without adding Pop Rocks.

By rimming your coupe with red and blue(ish) Pop Rocks as well as granulated sugar, you can deliver the thrill of fireworks to your cocktail. It’s a tricky business, this, because moisture is what sets off the Pop Rocks, and they begin to crackle and form a difficult -to-manage ball upon being exposed to humidity, even in the air. It is, therefore, crucial to have your mise en place, as they say.

Find a large work surface and line up three saucers. Place your unopened packets of Pop Rocks next to the first two saucers, and put granulated sugar in the third one. Line up all of the glasses you wish to prepare. Next, make a concentrated simple syrup by mixing 1/2 cup sugar with 1/4 water. Bring to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until large bubbles begin to form and it coats the back of a spoon. Carefully (this stuff is lava hot) transfer the syrup to a sheet pan, then place all of your glasses rim-side down on the pan and move them around so the rims are coated in syrup.

Photo by Susan Whitney.

Next, open and pour the red Pop Rocks in one saucer and the blue Pop Rocks in the other. Working quickly, place one third of the outside of the rim in the first saucer, one third in the second, and rest in the third, so that you’re left with a red, white and blue-rimmed glass. Quickly repeat with the rest of the glasses. Save the leftover Pop Rocks to drop in your cocktail before serving. If you’re hosting a party, this step can be completed before your guests arrive so your drinks can be served quickly.

When you’re ready to serve, shake your ingredients with ice, strain into the prepared glasses and drop some reserved Pop Rocks (which by now have become a sticky ball) into each cocktail and serve. Now kick back, watch some fireworks, and listen as your cocktail crackles with the excitement of the 4th.


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