While predating the Sidecar by quite a bit, the Brandy Daisy comes in a variety of forms. As such, it is an excellent cocktail to discuss and look at in order to understand the evolution of a drink. Exploring one of more common and recent variations, I find that it is similar enough to a Sidecar to warrant comparison, and is in itself a refreshing delightful cocktail, both sweet with hints of sour, and the complex flavors of various herbs on the finish of a sip. In some ways, it can be conceived of as a forerunner to the Sidecar, perhaps lending inspiration to the cocktail, though personally I think of it as a complementary cocktail.
One of the original publications for the Brandy Daisy was in 1876, in Jerry Thomas’ The Bartenders Guide or How To Mix Drinks. The Daisy, with one of the earliest popular references being in Henry Llewellyn Williams’ 1866 novel, Gay Life in New York, or Fast Men and Grass Widows (Wondrich Imbibe! 107). Essentially, the Daisy died out but reappeared in the 1930s as an extremely popular cocktail, one which was known as being to bartenders of the time as “cooling, refreshing, and peculiarly tasty” (Ibid 107). According to Wondrich, the cocktail, while made with brandy, whiskey, gin or rum, was sweetened originally with orange cordial, strained and then fizzed, making it nearly identical to a Fizz except for the addition of orange cordial (Ibid 108).
However, the Daisy took on different connotations than a fizz, and somewhat became a “dude’s drink,” with a “little bit of fanciness that came empinkened with grenadine and decanted into some sort of recherché” (Ibid). Furthermore, around 1929, near Tijuana, a Tequila Daisy was introduced: “Tequila. Lime juice. Grenadine. A little creme de cassis. Ice. Soda. In other words, a tequila Daisy, modern type” (Ibid). As Wondrich points out when discussing the cocktail for esquire: “The oldest recipe we’ve got for a Brandy Daisy is from “Professor” Jerry Thomas. His rendition dates to 1862 and is far more alluring, calling as it does for curaçao (instead of the usually insipid grenadine) and accenting the whole with a couple dashes of fragrant Jamaican rum (brandy’s closest friend in the spirit world). Those with a mixological bent will notice that, by the simple omission of rum and fizz, you’ve got what is essentially a Sidecar on ice” (Wondrich Esquire).