The Tuaca Sidecar


I am bringing my little excursion on Sidecars and variants / similar cocktails to a close, and thought that I should close with a variant on the Sidecar proper.  Many variations include a complete change on the principle spirit.  On account of this, there are Pisco Sidecars, Bourbon Sidecars, and arguably, even the Margarita could be considered a “type of” Sidecar. While there are other variegated forms of a Sidecar, the cocktail itself can be varied by the addition or subtraction of a liquor as well as the type of garnish.  As such, I will be looking at a Tuaca Sidecar.

So as we have explored this week, the Sidecar can be varied quite a bit, and has a whole slew of cocktails rather similar to it.  The reason for this is in part because of the simplicity of the cocktail, but also because it belongs to the sours family of cocktails, which features a wide slew of variations.  So similarities will be prevalent, as well as drastic differences.  In this variation, which has a whole range of different recipes online, Tuaca replaces or, as in the recipe I will be using, supplements the base spirit.

Now the question is, what is Tuaca?  An Italian liqueur, thirty-five percent alcohol by volume, made using a Brandy base, Tuaca exhibits an aroma of vanilla and orange, a finish of vanilla lingering on the tongue, and is extremely smooth.  As their website puts it, the liqueur was originally crafted, according to legend, for Lorenzo the Magnificent, who was a fifteenth century ruler of Florentia.  The modern recipe however, only dates back to 1938, when the two Tuscan denizens named  Geatano Tuoni and Giorgio Canepa “re-discovered” this antiquated recipe, and dubbed it Tuoca, which would eventually be corrupted to Tuaca.  Made in Tuscany still, the liqueur was originally imported into the states in the 1950s.   

Because of the brandy base, most of the cocktails known as a Tuaca Sidecar replace the brandy completely with Tuaca.  While this is good, the flavors of vanilla come to the forefront, and throw off the sour component; it becomes rather, a different cocktail all together, and while the vanilla tastes good, I wanted it to be a little more subtle.  Digging through various recipes, I found the most interesting one, created by Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, deceptively known as a “Sidecar.”  However, what sets it apart is that the cocktail supplements the brandy or cognac with the Tuaca, rather than just replacing it entirely.  While their recipe calls for a normal Sidecar, with the addition of one part of the liqueur, the flavor of the cognac is not lost in the cocktail, and the Tuaca comes out as strengthening the entire catalog of flavors prevalent in the drink.

Yet, I varied it slightly.  First, I used 4 parts cognac, to three parts lemon juice and Cointreau, to two parts Tuaca.   Second, I changed the lemon twist out for flamed orange peel.  The result is smashing: the alcohol content is not really raised, and the volume remains the same as a normal Sidecar, with the vanilla lingering lightly over the tongue.  Furthermore, orange comes out much more, being not only in the Tuaca, but also in the Cointreau and the oils expressed by the flamed orange peel.

Tuaca Sidecar (modified Ruth’s Chris recipe):

1 ounce cognac
3/4 ounce lemon juice
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce Tuaca

Combine ingredients in a shaker, shake until well chilled.  Pour into stemware glass.  Garnish with flamed orange peel.

Doug.  2008.  The Pegu Blog.  “Tuaca and Ruth’s Chris House Sidecar.” (accessed February 21, 2010).
Tuaca.  “Storia – Brand History.” (accessed February 21, 2010).
The Webtender.  “Tuaca.” (accessed February 21, 2010).
Wikipedia contributors. “Sidecar.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. (accessed February 21, 2010).
–.  “Tuaca.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. February 21, 2010).