The Sidecar is a classic cocktail that is perfect for any occasion. This easy-to-follow recipe will show you how to make one at home in just a few simple steps. So, gather your ingredients and get ready to mix up a delicious drink!
Can you believe that this classic cognac drink is over a century old? Yet, after all these years, it remains a favorite!
This brandy sour is a dry cocktail. It contains cognac, fresh lemon juice, and orange liqueur and features a sugared rim. The sugared rim is optional; however, this cocktail is sour and not particularly sweet, so the sugared rim is a nice touch.
History of the Sidecar
To help you celebrate in Gatsby's style just like they did in the 1920s, I present the Sidecar, an iconic drink of the era which had its debut during the Prohibition period.
There are lots of exciting stories as to how the drink came about and how it got its name. As I researched the background of the original Sidecar in the early days, I enjoyed learning more about the 1920s and the popular libations. This drink likely originated around World War I.
The origin of the Sidecar drink appears to be from Pat McGarry, a bartender at London's Buck Club, in the 1922 edition of Harry McElhone's book Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails. This cocktail recipe is also found in "Cocktails and How to Mix Them" by Robert Vermeire.
Both books show the Sidecar with equal parts cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice. Later versions changed the ratios to two parts cognac, one part Cointreau, and one part lemon.
An English and French bar both claim to have created the cocktail for a customer who arrived in the sidecar of a motorcycle. However, some say that the Sidecar referred to the mixture left in the shaker after straining and served on the side in a shot glass.
You don't have to be an expert in the fine art of mixing drinks to make this classic Sidecar cocktail! Here's what you need:
- cocktail shaker
- coupe glasses or martini glasses - I love these Nick and Nora glasses. I love them so much that I purchased them! They are of fantastic quality.
Use quality ingredients for the best results. Otherwise, this traditional recipe will have a harsh flavor.
- Brandy or cognac, which is a type of French brandy - I used VSOP cognac; you can also try a good Armagnac or other types of brandy.
- Triple sec or your favorite orange liqueur - I used Cointreau in this recipe for its combination of dryness and sweetness.
- Citrus juice such as fresh lemon juice.
- Sugar, such as finely ground organic cane sugar for the rim of the glass (optional) or superfine sugar, optional but recommended to balance the sourness.
- Orange twist or lemon twist, optional for garnish
How to make a Sidecar Cocktail
Many recipes have different ratios of cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice. The recipe I'm sharing is a twist on the French original, which has one ounce of each for one drink.
The sugar lining on the edge of the coupe started appearing in recipes in 1934. The Sidecar is usually served with a sugar rim and is shaken, not stirred.
Here's how to make it:
- Chill your coupe glasses in the fridge after rolling the edges of the glasses in fine sugar if desired
- Prepare your garnish if using a lemon or orange twist
- Add cognac, triple sec, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Shake vigorously for 20 seconds, pour, and enjoy!
VSOP means Very Superior Old Pale. VSOP cognacs are made from eaux-de-vie that have been aged for at least four years. The VSOP category has designations such as Old or Reserve. XO means extra old; XO cognacs are made from eaux-de-vie that are at least six years old.
Yes, it is a notable brandy produced in the Armagnac region in Gascony, which is in southwest France.
Triple sec is a liqueur made from the skins of oranges and ranges in alcohol content from 15% to 30%. Cointreau is a proprietary orange liqueur made from sweet and bitter orange skins and has an alcohol content of 40%.
I’d love to hear how this Sidecar cocktail turned out for you. And if you have any questions about the recipe, feel free to ask. I’ll do my best to help. In the meantime, cheers – and enjoy your delicious Sidecar cocktails!
More cocktail recipes
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Classic Sidecar Cocktail
- ½ cup organic cane sugar finely ground, optional
- 1 cup ice
- 3 oz cognac
- 2 oz triple sec
- 1 oz lemon juice freshly squeezed
- Lemon twist or orange twist garnish
- Rub the edge of each coupe glass with lemon before gently rolling the edge in sugar, if desired.
- Chill the glasses in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- While the glasses are chilling, place a cup of ice in a cocktail shaker.
- Add cognac, triple sec, and lemon juice.
- Shake vigorously for 10 to 20 seconds and pour it in the chilled coupes or martini glasses. Garnish with a lemon or orange twist if desired.
- If you like the contrast of sweetness, add a sugar rim to your coupe glass. If you don't have fine sugar, simply blend the sugar in a food processor.
- Be careful not to get sugar inside the glass, keep it on the outside only. Use a damp cloth to remove any sugar that falls in the glass, and to level the edge of the sugar on the glass to approximately ¼-inch to ½-inch.
Resplendent Kitchen offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site as a courtesy. Although resplendentkitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information from online calculators, these figures are estimates.
This sidecar cocktail was so delicious! It was the perfect date night drink!
Thank you for your comment, Kayla! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
Your photos are beautiful. Even though I wasn't really in the mood for cocktails before reading this, I kind of am now. Sounds delicious.
Thank you so much, Choclette! It really is a lovely cocktail, I hope you try it!
Easy and classic. These will be lovely at Thanksgiving!
Thank you so much, Holly! I hope you enjoy them!
Such a yummy cocktail! Love the idea of adding a sugar rim.
Thank you, Tina, we're glad you enjoyed it!
Yum! This is my fave cocktail to get at our local hangout and I had no idea it was so easy to make at home (and way cheaper!) Great recipe and awesome, detailed post. Will definitely make again...on repeat!
Thank you for trying out my recipe, Karen! I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed it and will be making it again! Cheers!
I love the info on different Brandys and cognacs. Delicious drink.
Thank you for your kind words, Helen! We're glad you find the information helpful!
This cocktail is so good! Incredibly refreshing and tasty with every sip!
Thank you for trying our cocktail recipe, Andrea! We're glad to hear that you enjoyed it!
This is my new favorite cocktail! I have a bottle of cognac that someone gave me a while ago and was looking for cocktails to use it up since I don't like it straight. This one is by far the best!
Thank you for trying this cocktail Agnieszka, I'm glad you enjoyed it!
I am glad to be able to use Cointreau left over from margaritas. Delicious cocktail!
I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Rupali! Thanks for trying it out.
What a fun cocktail! I think this is super-elegant for a special toast!
Thank you so much, Patricia, it's perfect for a special toast!