Friday, August 09, 2013

Cocktail of the Week: The Between The Sheets

Dr. Egon Spengler: Don’t cross the streams.

Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?

Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.


The timeless advice of a trusted academic is also my usual response to the mixing of base spirits. One, typically, is enough. The case of the Between The Sheets isn’t abetted by its name, which can also be appended to anything read from a fortune cookie. It was a bitter disappointment, then, that the Playboy Bartender’s Guide, always a reliable source of vaguely smutty drink advice, simply observed that the Between The Sheets is a variation on the rum Sidecar.

The cocktail dates back to the Prohibition era and is credited to the usual places; Harry’s New York Bar Paris comes up, but Harry’s New York Bar Paris always comes up. Given the combustible combination of potent potables, it’s not surprising that some experts viewed it askance. In early editions of The Official Mixer’s Manual, it was branded with the advisory asterisk that was essentially Patrick Gavin Duffy tossing up his hands and saying, “I’ll tell you how to make it. I’m not telling you to drink it.” Charles H. Baker, Jr. first sampled it in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on a day of rioting between Arabs and Jews. “We won’t go into the politics of the thing,” he observes in his customary style in The Gentleman’s Companion, “but it was a nasty mess.” As for the cocktail itself, he declares it “totally sound.”

And it is. Partisans of the Sidecar may want to give it a whirl, the rum bestowing a tropical kick on the proceedings. There are versions prescribing Benedictine in place of rum, but if you’re going to baffle the palate, says I, baffle it but good. I personally don’t sugar the rim of the glass, as you would in a standard Sidecar, because the rum (or the Benedictine) will provide sufficient sweetness. And depending on which recipe you consult, the amount of lemon juice varies from a dash to a portion equal to the other ingredients. Here I’ve opted for enough to keep the drink squarely in the Sour family, where it belongs. Whatever preparation you settle on, the Between the Sheets is better than its name.

The Between The Sheets

1 oz. light rum
1 oz. brandy (Cognac)
1 oz. Cointreau
¾ oz. lemon juice

Shake. Strain. No garnish.