Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Lake District Murder with a 'Sidecar'

John Bude's 'The Lake Distruct Murder' was the second of the British Library's Crime Classics I read, it was back in early 2014, I was careful not to give spoilers when I Wrote  about it, and I left my copy with my father (because I thought he'd enjoy it as much as I had) in the Borders. Which means the details are now hazy, and I can't check back to the book.

Never mind. I do remember enjoying it both for the descriptions of a bit of the country I've never managed to be in when it wasn't raining (so I'm taking those descriptions on trust) and for a plot that involved illicit booze along with the murder in the title.

I'm not sure that Inspector Meredith is really a cocktail man (though he seemed to enjoy a good cognac in 'Death on the Riviera', but his police bike has a sidecar, and I feel he might enjoy one of these if it came his way.

I had assumed that the Sidecar might have been a prohibition era cocktail (using lemon to disguise rough brandy), but it seems to have originated in Paris just after the First World War and was indeed named after the Sidecar on a motorbike. I've made the version from the Savoy Cocktail Book which is a simple 1 part lemon juice, 1 part Cointreau, 2 parts brandy, shaken over ice and strained. It seems the original Sidecar had more ingredients but they've been refined away with time. The French take on a Sidecar has equal amounts lemon, Brandy, and Cointreau which would make it slightly sweeter and a little weaker (some also put sugar round the rim of the glass).

In the Harry Craddock version the lemon and brandy both vie for dominance, the result is mouth-wateringly sharp, and for once tastes every bit as strong as it is. There's something quite uncompromising about it, which I like. It also feels like a distinctly masculine cocktail from the name down to the suggestion of expensive cologne that I associate with brandy (you can find the same notes on the nose from both, and I notice an increasing number of scents that describe themselves as having a brandy smell about them).

Inspector Meredith might not have drunk these, but some of the bars he was watching must have served them...

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