10 Favorite Summer Cocktail Tips from Chow Bella's Resident Bartender, JK Grence

The Sidecar
The Sidecar
JK Grence

For more than a year now, Shady's bartender and regular Chow Bella contributor JK Grence, has been providing invaluable advice to the alcohol-infused masses with his "Last Call" column. Considering this grand milestone, we decided to take a look back at some of his best tips as we head into the summer.

Read on to see some of our favorite summer cocktail recipes and drinking advice, courtesy of Grence.

10. How to Make the Perfect Sidecar

One of my favorite parts of writing Last Call is getting to answer people's burning questions about booze. I truly love getting to pull the curtain back on the alchemy of bartending. This week, I opened up the mailbag and read:

What tips do you have for making a good Sidecar?

Good choice with the Sidecar, it's one of the most underrated drinks out there. The hardest part of ordering one is finding a bartender who's heard of the thing. While the Sidecar is practically the standard bearer of brandy cocktails, Americans (except grape-loving Californians who skip the Sidecar in favor of sipping brandy neat from a snifter, and for some strange reason Wisconsinites) lost their taste for brandy quite some time ago. It's poised to make a comeback; brandy is smooth and easy to drink and has more character than boring old vodka. The Sidecar is a great place to start.

See Grence's Sidecar recipe here.

9. The French 75: Not French, But It's So Good That Who Cares?

The French 75's origins are shrouded in mystery. Harry's New York Bar in Paris claims to have invented the drink in 1915. And cocktail historian David Wondrich has reason to believe it's the only cocktail invented in the United States during the dark days of Prohibition.

I'm a bit more inclined to believe Wondrich, but either way, one thing is sure: It's named for a piece of French artillery. The 75mm shell provided an awful lot of firepower in a small, light package, and the gun itself had a new type of recoil mechanism that was incredibly smooth.

You can guess how the drink goes down.

See Grence's French 75 recipe here.

8. The Tale of Two Suffering Bastards

Much like the French 75, there are two schools of thought on the spirits to use in the original Suffering Bastard. Gin is always half of the equation. The other part is either bourbon or brandy, depending on who you ask. I give a slight nod to the brandy version, but sometimes I'll absentmindedly reach for the bourbon. It's delicious either way.

Suffering Bastard à la Trader Vic's

¾ ounce fresh lime juice ¼ ounce orgeat syrup ½ ounce simple syrup ½ ounce orange curaçao 1 ounce (Puerto Rican) light rum 1 ounce (Martinique) gold rum ½ ounce (Jamaican) dark rum

Shake everything together with crushed ice. Pour into a double rocks glass. Garnish with a speared pineapple tidbit and maraschino cherry, a sprig of mint, and a thick spear of cucumber peel.

See Grence's "Original" Suffering Bastard recipe here.

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