It is 1941 and the world is in the midst of chaos and war. One man desires to do his part and enlist… but sadly, the military rejects him because of his frail stature. Despite the military denial, his dedication and resolve attract the notice of an army general who is overseeing “Project: Rebirth,” an experimental super-soldier project for which this man qualifies as a test subject. Upon receiving the trial serum, he is transformed into a near-perfect soldier, the epitome of strength, stamina, agility, and intelligence. He becomes… Captain America.
No matter how familiar you are with that tale, it feels powerful, doesn’t it? The birth of a legend that came, one who came from nothing and became the icon we instantly recognize today! I think we would all agree that this hero’s story grabs our hearts and captivates our minds.
But what about the times when the origin story is unclear, foggy, or even fraught with controversy? Well, that makes the subject all the more appealing, don’t you think?! Such is the case for today’s cocktail inspiration… Image Source
Over one hundred years after the sidecar was first served (toward the end of WWI), its history is still contested.
The French claim that the drink was first shaken in Harry’s New York Bar, owned by a Scotsman, serving as a haven for Americans in Paris. Supposedly, an American army captain would travel to the bar in the sidecar of his friend’s motorcycle, looking for a warming, pre-dinner drink. But because it wasn’t socially appropriate to drink cognac so early in the evening, the bartender mixed in some Cointreau and lemon juice, creating an acceptable pre-dinner apéritif.
Other Parisians don’t necessarily contest this story, but they believe the drink was created at the Ritz Hotel instead of Harry’s New York Bar.
However, across an ocean, the bartender of Buck’s Club in London argues that he was the true creator, citing a similar tale of a friend who regularly arrived in a sidecar.
And then, there are those cocktail historians who insist the drink was first concocted in New Orleans, named for the leftover alcohol bartenders poured into shot glasses for enjoyment at the end of the night. So… who do we believe?
Whatever the truth may be, the fact remains that the sidecar is a simple blend of few ingredients and has stood the test of time. With its robust citrus flavor and a hint of smokiness, this accessible drink feels luxurious, perhaps because of its mysterious past. Image Source
In the true fashion of our Cocktails & Interiors Series, I’ll be sharing some #bestsippedwith pairing to get you inspired. But first, you just need a few ingredients and you’ll be sipping this delicious elixir in no time:
- Gather your ingredients: 1 tsp sugar, 1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3 oz brandy or cognac, and ½ oz triple sec.
- Rim your glass with sugar.
- Combine the sugar and lemon juice in the bottom of a mixing glass and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Fill the glass with ice and add the brandy or cognac and triple sec.
- Shake and strain into the rimmed glass.
- Garnish with a lemon or orange slice.
While you’re slowly sipping that beverage that is so simple, yet makes you feel so fancy, let’s talk interiors.
When I think of spaces inspired by this fun-loving cocktail with an air of mystery, I envision rooms that are cheerful. Places that promise a fun night with drinks flowing. I picture playing Cards Against Humanity or bar-hopping in upbeat yet chic places in town. Spaces that allow you to be silly, laugh a lot, and make wonderful memories of good times with those who share your zest for life.
Wondering what those interiors might look like? Let me share a few of my faves…
#BestSippedWith: Funky Decor that Makes You Smile
When we take a peek inside Lena Dunham’s quirky, colorful West Village apartment, we encounter a dining room that is anything but formal. With the mustard-colored polka-dotted chairs, the CB2 scalloped table, and an Ettore Sottsass mirror with squiggly lines, this space screams “come have a good time!” The pink-hued walls add a feminine flair while the column-based table touts a masculine quality. This space is harmonious, filled with funky decor, and ready to host a rowdy group of girlfriends!
Could you imagine yourself in here, sidecar in hand, laughing the night away?? Me, too.
#BestSippedWith: Unexpected Design Elements Fit for a Fairy Tale
This lounge in the Proper Hotel San Francisco is both sexy and unexpected. It falls somewhere between an interior straight out of Alice in Wonderland and an opulent well-designed mansion. There is an unexpected detail at every corner… that checkerboard fireplace facade… the high-backed chairs in various shapes and colors… the panther sculpture lurking in the foreground.
To be honest, this space leaves me speechless. And ready to gather my closest friends for a really good time…
#BestSippedWith: Fun-Loving Artwork that Ignites Conversation
Clarissa and Edgar Bronfman (you know, venture capitalist billionaires…no big deal), opted for a “formal living room” that is anything but in their Park Ave. penthouse. While also housing the high-end flair of Jean-Michel Frank sofas and a Paul Dupré-Lafon cocktail table, the room is infused with a sense of levity by the whimsical Jorge Lizarazo rug crafted to complement the abstract, fun-filled Roberto Matta painting. (If that painting doesn’t inspire conversation, I don’t know what will!)
Not to be missed are the colorful Italian armchairs, circa the Mid-Century Modern movement of the 1950s, are the perfect finishing touch on a room this grand and playful.
#BestSippedWith: Eccentric Details that Contrast the Architecture
It takes a truly artistic eye to dream up this funky design for such a classic apartment. Full of moulding and trim-work, you’d expect a formal space filled with buttoned-up furniture, but this room proves that sometimes… the more eccentric, the better.
The vibrant colors, geometric prints, and countless textures contrast with the Renaissance painting on the wall, creating the perfect imbalance in design. The floor-to-ceiling bookshelf/side table combo in a bold salmon color steals the show, while the flower-shaped coffee table fights for centerstage.
There is so much to love about this unexpected, flamboyant, and jaw-dropping sitting room. All the better with a sidecar in hand! Image Source
Now it’s your turn…
Alright, alright, so I have shown you some seriously out-there spaces filled with the eccentric and certainly the unexpected. But you’re probably curious if I’ll ever get to the practical implementation for YOUR space, right?
Don’t worry, I would never leave you hanging! I have put together some of my top picks for that playful, artistic, fun-loving bar area in your own home… each of them as awe-inspiring and quirky (in the best possible way) as the last…
#BestSippedWith: Bar Cart Essentials
This Roebling Cut Crystal Champagne Coupe is a showpiece all on its own. From the detailed etching to its robust shape, you hardly need to garnish a drink when the vessel is this delightful. (Image Source)
This Agustina Bottoni Calici Milanesi Cocktail Glass is reminiscent of Lena Dunham’s dining table, don’t you think?! With its column-esque stem leading to a martini-shaped bowl…unpredictable doesn’t even begin to describe it. Just wow! (Image Source)
This bold, geometric Jonathan Adler Torino Bar dropped my jaw to the floor. Simultaneously modern, high-end, and quirky, I can’t think of a single setting where this bar wouldn’t work. It’s just that good. (Image Source)
This Kelly bar chair, again inspired by the iconic Roman column, is a timeless and unforgettable piece. Plus the gold finish means it would work in nearly any interior setting…whether you opt for fun and funky or pretty and playful. (Image Source)
This Marco armchair evokes images of Princess Leia’s legendary hairstyle, don’t you think? Its spirited and stylish shape would elevate the decor of any home while also providing a lively conversation piece. (Image Source)
This Giulietta screen, with its curved brass frame initiates an elegant dialogue with the velvet upholstery. Contrasting with itself and blending flawlessly with your other exuberant bar decor, this screen is a must-have for any open-concept in-home bar area. (Image Source)
This Prohibition inspired cocktail recipe wall poster pays homage to the murky past of our beloved inspiration cocktail…and is a must for any speakeasy-inspired bar looking for a bit of historic flair. (Image Source)
This out-there artwork by Lucio Carvalho is sure to have your guests talking. It is funky for sure, but also gorgeous and a necessary consideration for any eccentric interior. I know I need it! (Image Source)
Last, but certainly not least, this Echo Gold Rug provides a cheerful backdrop for any space. It isn’t loud enough to take away from your other carefully-curated decor, but it lends a bit of additional personality…feeling both luxurious and modern. (Image Source)
Remember our main man, Captain America?! Well, against all odds, he and his sidekick, Bucky Barnes, went on to fight evil and emerge victorious.
The same rings true for our sidecar… despite humble and unknown beginnings, it has become a mainstay in bars across the world. With a subtle flavor perfect for nearly every palette, as sweet as it is tart, and as smooth as it is smoky, this cocktail is here to stay.
The sidecar — playful, mysterious, and rooted in breaking the rules — also shows us that eccentricity and fearlessness are the keys to show-stopping results, whether in craft cocktails or in interior design. Image Source
I can’t wait to help you design something unexpected and incredibly YOU.