Between the Sheets, but with Gin

We are in a happy place with Charles Baker at the moment. With Bertita's Special, a nice Bacardi Cocktail variation, the notorious Between the Sheets, a riff on a Sidecar, and a pair of simple rum concoctions we have entered a safe haven for the moment, protected from the myriad flavor surprises that I am sure await off in the distance. But by no means does this equate to boredom; Baker still has a few tricks up his sleeve; nothing is quite as simple or easy as it sounds.

Fresh squeezed lemon juice, check. Glasses chilling in the freezer, check. Tools, check. Everything was ready to go. With my hands full of Cointreau, brandy and rum, I wandered into the kitchen ready to begin pouring. Tracy had already settled onto the couch awaiting her beverage. Happy hour snacks were spread out on the table. Even the cats were settled in for a relaxing break. But while rechecking the proportions, I noticed that all was not as it seemed. Baker's Between the Sheets does not contain rum, his is made with gin.

When I really sat down to think about it, it wasn't all that surprising that the recipe for a cocktail could go that way over time. Sure, white rum and gin don't taste anything alike. No doubt about it. But more often than not, they work with the same flavors. And since they both lack those barrel-aged flavors, it is not surprising that they might have some of the same flavor affinities. So, especially if your cocktail has citrus in it, you could probably substitute light rum if you were lacking gin, or vice versa. I can't really explain it, but it works. Look at the Bee's Knees and the Honeysuckle. The Daiquiri and the Gin Rickey. Even the Seventh Heaven loosely resembles the Floridita, and the Darby is quite close to the Nevada. 

The Between the Sheets is an old classic, or at least the one containing rum in it is. Dating from at least the late 1920s, it is a damn fine variation on the Sidecar, which was the first classic cocktail to really catch my attention. (It was my graduate school go-to tipple.) It is easy to see why the Between the Sheets really took off during Prohibition as it combines cognac, standard in the Sidecar, with easier to find ingredients like the often ubiquitous bathtub gin and illegally imported rum. Originally, the proportions differed as well, with equal parts rum, brandy, and Cointreau, and only a dash of lemon juice. That's one big glass of booze with a hint of lemon. Well, at least it's not on the menu today. Over time the proportions changed to match the equal parts of the cocktail below. There is even a variation in trader Vic's guide that calls for gin and rum, and the cognac is just suggested as a substitute, as well as a drink called the Between the Sheets in Esquire's Handbook for Hosts that combines cognac, creme de cacao, cream, bitters, sugar, and a lemon peel. For once, it seems that the Baker variation isn't the most insane. My mouth is very glad.  

Jerusalem's Between the Sheets

3/4 ounce brandy
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce lemon juice
3/4 ounce gin

Shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Notes on Ingredients: I used Paul Masson VSOP brandy, and Bellringer gin.

The orange liqueur and lemon dominate the aroma, though I thought I could pick up a hint of vanilla from the brandy. Tracy smelled pineapple, which though there was none, is not really surprising, considering the citrus and sweetness from the Cointreau. This cocktail was remniscent of the sidecar, and thus was pleasantly tart and refreshing. Initially, the flavors of the lemon and orange were most prominent. The gin showed up at the end, and the brandy added a pleasant richness to the drink. The flavors progressed from the tart lemon, to the richness and slightly sweet taste of the Cointreau and brandy, before ending with dryness of the gin. As the drink warmed up, the botanics of the gin combined to create a pleasantly subtle flavor. The after taste was filled with vanilla notes from the brandy. This libation is a nice change from the sidecar, but the original will always have a special place in my heart.


  1. That sounds superb. Am making one immediately, while I cook dinner. Cheers.

  2. Just made one from a similar recipe but with only 1/4 oz of lemon juice. Very tart drink as is and I feel like the extra lemon is superfluous and might hide the herbals on the gin. I'm thinking for the next perhaps a dash of grapefruit bitters would help define some of the complexity.