Friday, May 8, 2009

Three sidecars please

According to Wikipedia, the Sidecar is a classic cocktail traditionally made with Cognac, orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier or another triple sec), and lemon juice. Pretty straightfoward hey? Surely Canberra cocktail bars were up to making a classic cocktail taste the way a classic cocktail should. Well, three of us decided to put them to the test.

To be honest, we didn’t really plan for this – it was just one of those stupid things that you decide to do without really putting any thought into it. Turns out in the end, this accidental experiment was a great way to rate the best of Canberra’s stirrers and shakers. 

We started at Knightsbridge, and so badly was this experiment planned that I asked for a Caipiroska, instead of the mandatory Sidecar. The bar had its usual Friday night crush, but the barman still paid great attention to both drinks. The Caipiroska was refreshing – all ice and lime, but I digress…we are focussing on the Sidecar. By all reports the Sidecar was a sound attempt. Not too sweet, not too tart. Decent effort made even better by the great music, happy buzz and the always friendly bar staff. 2nd Prize

Next stop was Tongue and Groove. Whoever came up with that name…this place has lost points already. After dodging vomit on the way in we made our way through the busy crowd and asked for 3 Sidecars. “ Sorry, we only make the drinks listed on the menu”. We didn’t want to stay anyway - the vibe was garish, there were too many badly dressed girls wearing less than they should, and if you can’t make a drink with three ingredients? 5th Prize

So it was across the road and upstairs to Hippo. We had to pay $5 to get in which is pretty cheeky considering the cocktails don’t come cheap. Life was much more subdued at Hippo which made for a nice change from the rabble below. Although the girl behind the bar didn’t know how to make a Sidecar, she gave it a red hot go. Result: a little on the sweet side, but for a first attempt pretty darn good. 3rd Prize

We had to rush to make it to Parlour before closing time, so there was a brisk walk across town to prepare for the next review (read sober up). Even though they weren’t that far from closing time, we were still greeted warmly by the friendly bar staff. These people know what they are doing! Our Sidecars arrived, a glass of cloudy orange hue. Result: AMAZING, the perfect blend of flavours. 1st Prize

Muddle was closed so we thought we would try Kremlin. After waiting at the bar for about 5 minutes (without any other punters around) were told “we just cleaned this section of the bar and it’s closed”. What? We need to shuffle half a metre to the left to be served? Bye bye. Last Prize

For the experiment to work we needed a bigger sample to compare and contrast so in desperation we headed to the Casino. The 17 year old boy who served us didn’t know how to make a Sidecar, nor how to display any charisma. I’ve never seen anyone shake a cocktail so limply. The end result was the most expensive of the night, came in a promotional glass with a crazy handle and was way too sweet. Awarded 4th Prize by default.


  1. I'm headed to Tongue and Groove tomorrow night and I already don't like it. Name Fail. Still not quite as bad as Jus Qytly.