Butcher and Singer was my last and best stop on my cocktail-related venture through Philadelphia. My experience there started with a Sidecar.
The Sidecar is a classic cocktail. As such, it saw a resurgence in the 90’s when the movie Swingers came out (sadly, I have yet to see it, so I don’t know whether the cocktail itself figures prominently in the movie, or whether the resurgence of cocktail culture in general generated renewed interest in the drink. I know, I am a cultural failure.) Consisting of brandy, Cointreau, and lemon juice shaken over ice and strained into a cocktail glass, it’s got a great mixture of all the things that make a cocktail successful for me – sweet, sour, herbaceousness, and bite. At Butcher and Singer, they throw in a thinly sugared rim on the glass, which really punches the sweet up a notch at the front of the drink before the other flavors come into play. I actually prefer this – that little pop of sugar at the front really sets the stage for the other flavors.
At this point, having complimented the bartender on the drink, I asked for something that he really likes that people may not order very often or see in other bars. He suggested a French 75. I have seen more than a few references to this cocktail being made with gin as the base spirit – but other references, and the associated back-story, refer to cognac as the lead. This was the version prepared here, and I can’t argue with the results.
The story goes that the drink was created during World War I by flying ace Franco Lufbery who wanted a way to kick up his champagne. He added cognac, which would certainly do the trick. The result was said to have the same effect as a famous (or infamous-, depending on which side of the lines you were on)-at-the-time piece of artillery, a French 75mm howitzer. Thus, the French 75.
For the preparation, cognac, simple syrup, and lemon juice are shaken together. The bartender prepared a large brandy snifter by half filling it with crushed ice, over which the drink was poured.
It was at this point I decided that further exploration of the