The Boston Side Car Cocktail

Jun 13, 2017

Cointreau is sweet.

The Serbian Apricot Brandy we have is not. Sure, it’s fruit forward but definitely not sweet.

When I flipped over to page 34 of Mr. Boston’s 1935 cocktail book, the Boston Side Car recipe that stared back at me did not excite. In fact, truthfully it didn’t even sound good.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Side Car cocktails, Apricot Brandy and Gin. But… a drink consisting of Apricot Brandy, Gin and Lemon juice without any sweetener, that doesn’t sound good at all.

The classic Side Car will not make it’s presence known until I reach page 132 sometime around May of 2018. For those of you who are new to the drink, a Side Car Cocktail is generally:

  • 1/4 ounce lemon juice

  • 1/4 ounce Cointreau

  • 1/2 Brandy or Cognac

The sweetness of the Cointreau is what mellows out the strong lemon notes but Leo Cotton omitted this key ingredient for some reason.

Thankfully, the Boston Side Car is small. Only 1-1/2 ounces plus ice melt, served in a 3 ounce cocktail glass. No problem right?

Still, I decided to make a tiny sample of this drink first to be sure. Combining 1 teaspoon on each ingredient, I gave the mini-tail a stir and taste. To my surprise it wasn’t as horrible as I feared but Ryan thought it was way too tart.

In the name of science, the Boston Side Car demanded some tweaking. Another small cocktail was crafted which substituted the ordinary Brandy called for in the original Side Car and replaced it with Apricot Brandy. Now we were talking!

Historically speaking, I almost positive that the Boston Side Car was an attempt by Leo Cotton to link a popular cocktail to the Mr. Boston brand name.

The move doesn’t appear to be a matter of taste. Although, without actually tasting Mr. Boston’s Apricot Nectar from 1935 I’ll never know for sure. Maybe the Nectar was much sweeter than the Apricot Brandy I purchased. If so, that would help calm the tartness and make the flavor profile resemble the original Side Car.

Old Mr. Boston's Apricot Nectar Ad

The Apricot Nectar advertisement in Mr. Boston’s 1935 book offers little clue as to what the original flavor profile was.

To test this theory we needed to replace the bottles of Apricot Brandy and Cointreau that died during our maiden trials. Ryan and I really liked the Serbian Apricot Brandy and decided to stick with it throughout the book. For a sweetener, I added simple syrup to Mr. Boston’s recipe.

Though the drink was better, I think the winning combination was the Cointreau, Apricot Brandy, Lemon Juice version. The sweet orange liqueur makes all the difference.

Tomorrow is Bourbon Wednesday, until then cheers!