Sidecar Cocktail Drink

Sidecar

A shot of Gavin Wrigley looking to the camera in a dimly lit room
Written by Gavin Wrigley
Andrea
Tested by
Andrea Ottaiano

When you want a standout cocktail, go for the Sidecar recipe. This drink is a breeze with simple ingredients and never fails to delight.

Sidecar Recipe

Enjoy a classic with our Sidecar recipe! Mix brandy, lemon juice, and triple sec, and you're set.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

201 kl

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Cognac or Brandy
  • ¾ oz Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • Ice cubes
  • Sugar, for rimming the glass, optional
  • Lemon twist, for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Cocktail Glass

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Wet the rim of your cocktail glass with a lemon wedge, then dip it into sugar to create a sugared rim. Leave it in the freezer.
  • Combine Ingredients: In the cocktail shaker, combine ¾ oz fresh lemon juice, ¾ oz Cointreau or Triple Sec, and 2 oz Cognac or Brandy.
  • Shake: Fill the shaker with ice cubes and shake the mixture until well chilled.
  • Strain and Serve: Strain the drink into the prepared cocktail glass.
  • Garnish: Add a lemon twist for garnish.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Cognac: I've used good quality brandy when I don't have Cognac on hand. It changes the depth a bit but still delivers a rich flavor.
  • Cointreau: Grand Marnier is a decent substitute for Cointreau. It's a bit sweeter and has a hint of brandy, which pairs well with the main spirit.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh is always best, but if I'm out of fresh lemons, I'll begrudgingly use bottled lemon juice, though it doesn't quite capture the zest of fresh-squeezed.

Making a Pitcher of Sidecar:

  • Scale: To craft a pitcher serving 8, multiply all ingredients by 8. You'd need 16 oz of Cognac, 6 oz of Cointreau, and 6 oz of fresh lemon juice.
  • Mix: Blend the Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice in a large pitcher. Add some ice and stir the mixture; even better, shake it if you have a pitcher that can be sealed.
  • Serve: Strain the mix into sugared-rim cocktail glasses, garnish with a lemon twist, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Cognac Substitute: Opt for a non-alcoholic brandy or a mix of apple and grape juices to mimic the depth of Cognac.
  • Cointreau Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic orange liqueur or simple syrup with a splash of orange juice for the orange essence.
  • Follow The Original Steps: Replace the standard ingredients with these non-alcoholic alternatives and proceed with the original instructions to enjoy a non-alcoholic Sidecar.

Making it Vegan:

The standard Sidecar recipe is inherently vegan, containing no animal-derived ingredients. Ensure that any sugar rimming the glass is certified vegan, as some sugars are processed using bone char. Always opt for organic or beet sugar to be on the safe side.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
201
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
0.1
g
0
%
Saturated Fat
 
0.03
g
0
%
Sodium
 
2
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
8
g
3
%
Fiber
 
0.1
g
0
%
Sugar
 
7
g
8
%
Potassium
 
29
mg
1
%
Protein
 
0.1
g
0
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
0.02
g
Vitamin A
 
1
IU
0
%
Vitamin C
 
8
mg
10
%
Calcium
 
1
mg
0
%
Iron
 
0.1
mg
1
%

 

Sidecar Cocktail Drink

Sidecar Recipe

Gavin Wrigley Written by Gavin Wrigley
Jump to Video
Enjoy a classic with our Sidecar recipe! Mix brandy, lemon juice, and triple sec, and you're set.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 201

Ingredients
 

  • 2 oz Cognac or Brandy
  • ¾ oz Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • Ice cubes
  • Sugar - for rimming the glass, optional
  • Lemon twist - for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Cocktail Glass

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Wet the rim of your cocktail glass with a lemon wedge, then dip it into sugar to create a sugared rim. Leave it in the freezer.
  • Combine Ingredients: In the cocktail shaker, combine ¾ oz fresh lemon juice, ¾ oz Cointreau or Triple Sec, and 2 oz Cognac or Brandy.
  • Shake: Fill the shaker with ice cubes and shake the mixture until well chilled.
  • Strain and Serve: Strain the drink into the prepared cocktail glass.
  • Garnish: Add a lemon twist for garnish.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Cognac: I've used good quality brandy when I don't have Cognac on hand. It changes the depth a bit but still delivers a rich flavor.
  • Cointreau: Grand Marnier is a decent substitute for Cointreau. It's a bit sweeter and has a hint of brandy, which pairs well with the main spirit.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh is always best, but if I'm out of fresh lemons, I'll begrudgingly use bottled lemon juice, though it doesn't quite capture the zest of fresh-squeezed.

Making a Pitcher of Sidecar:

  • Scale: To craft a pitcher serving 8, multiply all ingredients by 8. You'd need 16 oz of Cognac, 6 oz of Cointreau, and 6 oz of fresh lemon juice.
  • Mix: Blend the Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice in a large pitcher. Add some ice and stir the mixture; even better, shake it if you have a pitcher that can be sealed.
  • Serve: Strain the mix into sugared-rim cocktail glasses, garnish with a lemon twist, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Cognac Substitute: Opt for a non-alcoholic brandy or a mix of apple and grape juices to mimic the depth of Cognac.
  • Cointreau Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic orange liqueur or simple syrup with a splash of orange juice for the orange essence.
  • Follow The Original Steps: Replace the standard ingredients with these non-alcoholic alternatives and proceed with the original instructions to enjoy a non-alcoholic Sidecar.

Making it Vegan:

The standard Sidecar recipe is inherently vegan, containing no animal-derived ingredients. Ensure that any sugar rimming the glass is certified vegan, as some sugars are processed using bone char. Always opt for organic or beet sugar to be on the safe side.

What is a Sidecar?

Sidecar is a brandy-based cocktail that combines brandy, lemon juice, and triple sec. You don’t need a special occasion to enjoy a Sidecar. This classic drink recipe is straightforward, making it a go-to for many cocktail enthusiasts. The Sidecar not only boasts a rich history but also holds the distinction of being an International Bartenders Association (IBA) official cocktail, further cementing its status as a timeless classic in the world of mixed drinks.

A side shot of a Sidecar cocktail in a cocktail glass on a wooden board placed on a white marmol table with a red cloth, four sugar cubes, two lemons, a jigger, and a shaker around.

What is a Sidecar made of – The ingredients

To concoct a Sidecar, fetch the following components:

  • Brandy: The primary spirit that gives the Sidecar its robust and deep flavor foundation.
  • Lemon Juice: Adds acidity and a citrusy brightness, balancing out the sweetness of the other ingredients.
  • Triple Sec: An orange-flavored liqueur that brings sweetness and a hint of citrus aroma to the cocktail.

Brandy, Triple Sec and two lemons laid out on a white bar table.

How do you make a Sidecar?

With our straightforward guide, learn how to mix up a Sidecar easily:

1
<p>Start by wetting the rim of your cocktail glass with a lemon wedge.</p>

Start by wetting the rim of your cocktail glass with a lemon wedge.

2
<p>Then dip the rim into sugar to create a sugared rim. Leave it in the freezer.</p>

Then dip the rim into sugar to create a sugared rim. Leave it in the freezer.

3
<p>Pour the lemon juice into the shaker.</p>

Pour the lemon juice into the shaker.

4
<p>Add triple sec to the shaker</p>

Add triple sec to the shaker

5
<p>Pour Cognac into the shaker.</p>

Pour Cognac into the shaker.

6
<p>Add ice cubes to the shaker until it’s about two-thirds full.</p>

Add ice cubes to the shaker until it’s about two-thirds full.

7
<p>Shake the mixture vigorously until the outside of the shaker feels cold.</p>

Shake the mixture vigorously until the outside of the shaker feels cold.

8
<p>Strain the cocktail into the chilled glass to remove any ice shards.</p>

Strain the cocktail into the chilled glass to remove any ice shards.

9
<p>Optionally, garnish with a lemon twist, expressing its oils over the drink for an added aromatic touch.</p>

Optionally, garnish with a lemon twist, expressing its oils over the drink for an added aromatic touch.

Can I use Bourbon in a Sidecar?

Swapping Bourbon for the traditional brandy in a Sidecar brings a distinctive shift in the flavor profile. Bourbon carries a sweeter, often woodier and caramel-infused character. This sweetness contrasts with brandy’s fruit-forward and sometimes floral notes. By using Bourbon, the Sidecar takes on a more robust American flair, with undertones of vanilla and oak. This change means the cocktail will lean more towards the flavors of classic American whiskey cocktails while still maintaining the citrusy brightness from the lemon juice and triple sec. If you’re a fan of Bourbon and enjoy its unique characteristics, this twist might be right up your alley. But for purists, brandy remains the heart of the traditional Sidecar experience.

A Sidecar cocktail , shot from above, in a cocktail glass on a wooden board placed on a white marmol table with a red cloth, three lemons, and four sugar cubes around.

Best Cognac for a Sidecar

When whipping up a Sidecar, your cognac choice can elevate the drink. A good cognac offers a rich depth, with fruit-forward notes and sometimes hints of oak or spices that mingle perfectly with the citrusy brightness of the cocktail. While many brands can do the trick, Remy Martin VSOP and Hennessy VS are two crowd-pleasers that never seem to disappoint. Both offer a balanced profile of sweetness and warmth without overwhelming the drink. However, if you want to splurge a bit and make that Sidecar memorable, consider reaching for a bottle of Courvoisier VSOP. Its velvety texture and nuanced dried apricot and hazelnut flavors make it an exquisite pick for a top-tier Sidecar. Cheers to finding your perfect pour!

A close shot of a Sidecar cocktail in a cocktail glass on a wooden board with a red cloth, and three lemons around.

Sidecar Variations

Ready for a change? We’ve got some exciting favorites to share with you:

  • Between the Sheets: This recipe introduces light rum, adding a tropical twist that complements the rich, fruity flavors of cognac. The presentation includes a flamed orange peel, which enhances the aroma and omits the classic sugared rim, allowing the blend of rum and cognac flavors to take center stage. I appreciate the unique combination of rum and cognac; it brings an unexpected but delightful tropical flair that’s both refreshing and sophisticated.
  • Chelsea Sidecar: This one replaces cognac with dry gin, pairing it with simple syrup, triple sec, and lemon juice. Served in a martini glass with a lemon twist, it offers a crisp, botanical experience. The use of dry gin imparts a distinct, herbaceous quality that I find invigorating, and the lemon twist adds just the right touch of citrus zest.
  • Boston Sidecar: This creation is a fusion of a classic sidecar, a daiquiri, and the Between the Sheets, where lime juice replaces lemon, creating a unique flavor balance. The addition of lime juice offers a tartness that perfectly complements the other ingredients, resulting in a harmonious blend. I’m drawn to the way the lime juice brightens the overall profile, making it zesty and lively.
  • Blueberry Sidecar: This one brings together muddled blueberries, lemon juice, Grand Marnier, and cognac. It’s visually stunning, garnished with a sugar rim, fresh blueberries, and a lemon twist. The blueberries add a sweet, fruity depth that contrasts beautifully with the lemon’s tartness. I love the vibrant color and the way the blueberries add both sweetness and depth to the flavors, making it not just a feast for the eyes but also for the palate.

A side shot of a Sidecar cocktail in a cocktail glass on a wooden board placed on a white marmol table with a red cloth, four sugar cubes, three lemons, a jigger, and a shaker around, in front of a yellow wall.

History and Origin of the Sidecar

The Sidecar’s origins are a blend of tales and mysteries, with two cities claiming birthplace: Paris and London. The most popular story attributes its creation to an American army captain in Paris during World War I. After a long day, this captain would frequent the city’s bars and supposedly travel in the sidecar of a friend’s motorcycle. Wanting a drink that could shake off the cold of his rides, he requested a mix of ingredients that led to the inception of the Sidecar we know today.

However, the Ritz Hotel in Paris also asserts that they first crafted the Sidecar, considering it one of their signature concoctions.

Across the channel, in London, another narrative unfolds. ‘Pat’ MacGarry is credited for the invention of the Sidecar while working in London Buck’s Club. Furthermore, MacElhone even mentioned the Sidecar in his 1922 book “Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails,” bolstering the British claim.  

Despite the mystery surrounding its origin, the Sidecar’s appeal and elegance remain undiminished. Over the years, it has remained a classic cocktail that charms drinkers worldwide.

A Sidecar cocktail, shot from above, on a white marmol table with a Triple Sec bottle, a Brandy bottle, seven sugar cubes, and two lemons around.

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FAQ

How many calories are typically in a Sidecar?
A standard Sidecar contains approximately 150 to 200 calories, depending on the specific ingredients and serving size.
How strong is a Sidecar cocktail?
The strength of a Sidecar varies with the ingredients used, but it typically ranges from 20-25% ABV (40-50 proof).
What type of alcohol is used in a Sidecar?
The primary spirit in a Sidecar is brandy, often combined with triple sec as a secondary alcoholic ingredient.
In which type of glass should a Sidecar be served?
A Sidecar is traditionally served in a cocktail or coupe glass.
What does a Sidecar taste like?
A Sidecar offers a harmonious blend of sweet, sour, and strong flavors with the warmth of brandy, lemon's zesty kick, and triple sec's sweetness.
What's the typical ratio of ingredients in a Sidecar?
The classic ratio for a Sidecar is two parts brandy, three-quarter part lemon juice, and three-quarter part triple sec.
How is the Sidecar typically served with ice?
A Sidecar is usually shaken with ice and then strained into a glass, serving it "up" without ice in the final presentation.

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