Sidecar Cocktail Recipe

The simplicity of some of the best drinks in the mixological canon is deceiving. Consider the Old Fashioned, the Daiquiri, and the gin Martini: brewing a cup of coffee is more difficult than mixing these beverages. However, a perfect marriage of flavors can be created with just two or three components and a dash of ice for added excitement.

There’s one more cocktail to add to this list: the Sidecar. The origins of the Sidecar, like most cocktails, are hazy (be wary of those who claim to know exactly when or where the Sidecar was first mixed), but this enticing blend of brandy, lemon juice, and orange liqueur began making the rounds in the most fashionable drinking establishments in London and Paris during the 1920s. The Sidecar’s structure is simple, but its flavor is complex enough to satisfy even the most jaded palates. It’s also not over-the-top with mixological gimmicks to scare away the casual tippler.

side car cocktail GEORGE DESIPRIS (pexels free use)

When making a Sidecar, there are two things to keep in mind:

First: Quality is important. If you use a mass-market brandy or a low-quality triple sec, your Sidecar will be terrible.

This is the moment to break out a fine (but not very old or expensive) VSOP cognac, a good Armagnac, or a great California brandy-like Germain-Robin. Cointreau is the only orange liqueur that has the appropriate balance of dryness and sweetness to make a Sidecar sing (and the lemon should be fresh and good).

Second: Don’t be afraid to play about with the proportions. Most people find equal proportions of the three ingredients in early recipes to be far too monotonous. Many books recommend a 2:1:1 mixture of brandy, lemon, and Cointreau. but I encourage you to do as I did, and wiggle with the proportions to find the mix that’s right for your taste.

Ingredients Save Recipe
2 ounces VSOP Cognac, Armagnac, or good California brandy
1 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice, to taste
superfine sugar, for garnish (optional)

Directions Optional: To make a thin crust on the rim of the cocktail glass, cut a slit in a lemon wedge and run the cut edge around the rim; then dip the rim in a saucer of superfine sugar. Keep the glass chilled until you’re ready to use it.

side car drink

Wagner Soares (pexels free use)

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice and add the brandy, Cointreau, and lemon juice. Shake vigorously for about 10 seconds, or until thoroughly cold. Strain into a prepared glass; if desired, garnish with a twist of orange or lemon peel.

shaker stainer
cocktail shaker and stainer

Cottonbro (pexles free use)

Credit: seriouseats