Monday, March 18, 2013


I had my first Sidecar a couple years ago at the Commander's Palace in New Orleans, and ever since, this classic cocktail has quickly become one of my favorites. As is the case with many old school cocktails, the origins of the Sidecar are unclear. It's believed to have been created in either London or Paris around the end of World War I. Regardless of its origin, this cocktail has stood the test of time. 

With only three ingredients: brandy, Cointreau, and lemon juice, it's a very simple cocktail to make. French recipes often call for equal parts brandy, Cointreau, and lemon juice, but in The Savoy Cocktail Book, circa 1930, the drink calls for 2 parts brandy to 1 part Cointreau and 1 part lemon juice. I prefer the latter English version over the French, which is the recipe I've provided below.

While the use of brandy or cognac in cocktails has largely fallen out of favor since the Sidecar's birth, most people today wouldn't even know it was in there. When I make it for friends at parties I always have them taste it before I tell them what's in it (otherwise the thought of brandy has them running for the door). But once they try it they're usually sold and before long request another. 

The beautiful amber hue of the Sidecar is complimented by its sugar rim, a now classic addition that was adopted sometime in the 1930's. But don't be deceived by the Sidecar's sugary rim, as it isn't some silly affectation or indication of a cloyingly sweet drink. The sugar actually works to balance the tartness of the lemon and compliments the brandy base. This is a drink I enjoy anytime of the year, but particularly in warm weather months. As spring is just around the corner, I can't think of any better way to celebrate. Cheers!


1 lemon
2 tbsp. granulated sugar or superfine sugar
2 oz. Cognac or brandy
1 oz. Cointreau or triple sec
1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Squeeze half the lemon on a small plate, discard any seeds. Place the sugar on another small plate. Dip the rim of a chilled cocktail glass in the lemon juice, followed by the sugar. Set aside.

Combine the Cognac or brandy, Cointreau, and lemon juice in a martini shaker with ice. Shake until nice and cold and strain into the prepared cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel or slice of lemon (seeds removed). 

Yield: 1 Sidecar

  • Try making a Sidecar with Meyer lemons when in season. The drink will lose some of its acidity, but it's a fun seasonal variation to experiment with.
  • I like the "crunch" of regular granulated sugar on the rim, but if you prefer the texture of superfine sugar, simply give the granulated sugar a whirr in a blender or food processor. 

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