As we enter cold and flu season, there are only so many things you can do to stay healthy as those around you cart around those Kleenex boxes. While the CDC calls hand-washing the surefire way to prevent the flu, there are a few things you can consume to make sure your immune system stays strong all season long. Not too long ago, we looked at William Faulkner's hot toddy recipe that was his cure-all for everything from a broken heart to a bad fall from a horse. While we loved the universality of his recipe, especially the simplicity of it, there had to be one cocktail that did more to help fight the common cold. There is, and it's the Brandy Sidecar.
The Sidecar dates back to the end of World War I, although the precursor to the drink was a favorite in New Orleans since the 19th century. The Brandy Crusta was first written down by Jerry Thomas in 1862 in his novelty book, How to Mix Drinks.
The addition of lemon, as the Alcohol Professor pointed out, was an innovative leap because "citrus wasn't commonly used in drinks in the mid-19th century, unless you were a sailor trying to avoid scurvy." It's this addition of lemon in the early version of the Brandy Crusta that lent itself to the Sidecar.
In David Embury's 1948 The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, the author debuts the most simple recipe for the Sidecar:
2 oz Brandy
.5 oz Lemon juice
.25 oz Cointreau
However, the Sidecar we know and love today replaces the brandy with cognac and is a much larger drink at 4 ounces than 2.75 ounces. It's most often served in a Sidecar glass, but we prefer it in a tumbler or whatever you've got around when a cold strikes. There are three reasons, though, that the Brandy Sidecar is a better flu-fighter than its cognac cousin.
1. Brandy is naturally high in alcohol.
There are three ways that the Brandy Sidecar boosts your immune system, and it happens with each sip you take. Brandy is naturally an alcohol that packs a punch, with variations ranging from 35 to 80 percent alcohol content.
This antibacterial boost of liquor runs into that virus in your body and demolishes it head-on with a hefty dose of warmth that you feel immediately in your chest. Its relaxing qualities also induce a healthy sleep, something that those fighting a cold know is precious.
2. Fresh lemon juice cures all.
The punch of fresh lemon juice in the drink adds Vitamin C to your body and acts as a mental boost of invigorating flavor. If you need any more reasons that lemons are your magic cure-all, check out our post on the household uses of lemons here.
While you can add lime juice if you're in a pinch, there's something refreshingly crisp about lemon and some even toss a lemon wedge into their prepared glass. You can also serve the Sidecar with a sugar rim, but if you're focusing on beating the common cold, it's not necessary.
3. Cointreau is the immune-booster you never knew about.
Cointreau is a type of triple sec, an orange liqueur made from bitter oranges. Extracts of bitter oranges, and even bitter orange peels, have been marketed as both a dietary supplement and an appetite suppressant. Like other citrus fruits, bitter oranges can treat digestive problems, like nausea, constipation, and indigestion.
So as you're sipping the Sidebar cocktail to cure your cold, you're also fighting off the unpleasant digestive symptoms that can follow even the mildest cold or flu. When it comes to classic cocktails, nothing is as immune-boosting as this strong drink from the heart of America. After all, when the base spirit is brandy, what can go wrong?
The best thing about the Sidecar is that it's universally known, although you might have to ask specifically for brandy. From Paris to New York to Louisiana to California, someone will know how to make you one when you're too ill to make cocktail recipes yourself.
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