February 2nd, 2007

Forgotten Boston cocktails

Mr. Boston rumA couple of months ago, a guy named Goran Berntsson emailed me and asked, “Would you kindly answer my question on Sidecars? I wonder about the word ‘Boston’ in ‘Boston Sidecar.’ Does it just mean the drink is shaken in a Boston shaker or is there anything more, something historical, behind ‘Boston’ in this connection? I do think there should be, but if so: What?”

I had no idea. How embarrassing — drinkboston.com had never heard of a Boston Sidecar. I found the recipe in the Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide (1961 edition) I received for Christmas: 3/4 oz brandy, 3/4 oz rum, 3/4 oz triple sec, and the juice of half a lime shaken on ice and strained. But I didn’t know why it was called the Boston Sidecar. I asked around, but none of my bartender pals had any answers about the drink’s origins. I was only able to tell Goran that the Boston shaker likely had nothing to do with the drink’s name, since most cocktails are mixed in this apparatus. I noticed that Goran asked the same question on squidoo.com but didn’t get an answer there either.

Which brings me to the fact that I still have no background on this drink, but that this site ought to at least compile a list of drinks either with “Boston” in their name or that originated here. Here are a few:

  • Boston Sidecar (recipe above)
  • Boston Cocktail (from Michael Jackson’s Bar & Cocktail Companion: 1.5 oz dry gin, 1 oz apricot brandy, 1 tsp lemon juice, dash of grenadine)
  • Ward Eight (probably the most famous forgotten Boston cocktail. From CocktailDB: 1.5 oz bourbon or rye, 1 oz lemon juice, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 oz grenadine)

Of course, it being the Old Mr. Boston guide, that book has recipes for the Boston Collins and the Boston Sour, but those appear to be simply variations on the Rum Collins and the Whiskey Sour. I’ll do some cross-referencing and start a page of Boston cocktails whose recipes come from more than one source. In the meantime, if anyone knows how the Boston Sidecar, or the Boston Cocktail for the matter, got its name, chime in under Comments, will you?

Permalink | Filed under Brandy, Cocktails, Gin, Rum, Whiskey |

4 Responses to “Forgotten Boston cocktails”

  1. Ro

    Ask Anthony Julio who writes the Liquids column for Boston Mag. He knows about the “boston” in the Sidecar.

  2. Mike

    Better late than never with a reply, right? The “Boston” refers to the use of rum and limes. Boston had a huge trade in molasses and rum with the Caribbean back in the day. You’ve heard of the great molasses flood in the north end, right? That tank was owned by the Purity Distilling Company.

  3. ljclark

    Yes, I’m aware of the Boston-area rum trade of yore. But I’ve never heard that “Boston” refers to the use of rum and limes. (There are several cocktails with “Boston” in their name that have neither rum nor lime, and there are obviously lots and lots of cocktails, with many different names, that have rum and lime.) I’m curious: where did you hear/read this piece of cocktail lore? I’d love to look further into it.

  4. Jenni Davis

    You almost answered your own question! Mr Boston is a brand of rum imported into the States from the Virgin Islands – hence by adding Mr Boston rum to the original Sidecar recipe, it became the Boston Sidecar.

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