The Sidecar is a classic cocktail with a smooth and distinct flavor. A mix of only 4 sweet, sour, and tangy ingredients make this Sidecar drink something different but also familiar. This is a cocktail with a romantic past and something that can become your go-to beverage for a nice quiet evening.
Sidecar is one of those classic cocktails that’s been around for decades. It’s a mix of cognac, orange liqueur, simple syrup, and lemon juice. This gives the Sidecar a unique body, smooth taste, and very clean and refreshing flavor.
While you’ll find that some recipes that skip the simple syrup, I prefer to add a little bit to balance out the tartness and sourness of lemon juice. Since cognac is not a sweet liquor, a touch of sweetness mixed in from simple syrup is quite welcome.
We do choose to skip the sugar rim though. Tasting a mouthful of sugar after taking a sip overpowers the whole cocktail and make it too sweet.
Origin Of The Sidecar Cocktail
While the true origin of the Sidecar is somewhat shrouded in myths and legends, the most commonly agreed upon history begins in Paris at the time of the first World War. Legend has it that an American soldier seeking refuge from the battle found a hole in the wall bar and ordered what the bartender thought was a curious combination of ingredients. The soldier’s cocktail of choice included, spicy yet fruity cognac, sweet orange liqueur and a splash of lemon juice.
Without a moments notice the soldier was gone and the bartender only witnessed the soldier riding away on his motorcycle. Having not been able to ask the soldier what he called his cocktail of choice, the bartender instead named it after the soldier’s choice of ride and thus the Sidecar was born.
This very same bartender now took what had turned into a popular drink with him to London where he became the very first bartender for the storied Buck’s Club.
While the history of the Sidecar is filled with myths, legends and rumors, this much is true: the Sidecar became a staple at one of the most written about clubs in London for a reason, it’s taste!
Ingredients in The Sidecar Cocktail
- Cognac – One of the oldest spirits in the world, Cognac has found itself in many classic cocktail recipes. Use your favorite brand and remember that it will come through well, so choose one that tastes best to you.
- Orange Liqueur – Cointreau and Triple Sec are the best suited orange liqueur brands for this recipe. Grand Marnier may also fit well but it is a much sweeter liqueur so it will add more sweetness to the drink.
- Lemon Juice – I highly recommend that you squeeze fresh lemon juice. It tastes far better than anything pre-bottled at the store.
- Simple Syrup – use a simple one to one mixture of water and sugar for this recipe. If all you have is a rich simple syrup (2 part of sugar to 1 part of water), then use half the amount.
Cognac vs Brandy:
While both are made similarly in makeup and come from from grapes grown for white wine, there is one distinct difference. Cognac is a type of Brandy that is made specifically in the Cognac region of France, while Brandy can be made anywhere in the world.
What is Cognac?
It is a specific type of Brandy that is make from distilled white wine. Cognac has to be distilled twice in copper pot stills and then, aged in French oak barrels. It has to be aged for at least 2 years or as long as 10 years.
V.S. vs V.S.O.P. vs X.O.
This is a classification of cognac based on number of years that Eau-de-vie was aged. Eau-de-vie is the French name that literally means “water of life” and that is the twice distilled spirit that later turns into the cognac after the aging process.
- V.S. stands for “Very Special” and has a minimum aging time of 2 years. This will be your cheapest options.
- V.S.O.P stands for “Very Special Old Pale” and has a minimum aging time of 4 years. The price for these bottles will be somewhere in the middle.
- X.O. stands for “Extra Old” and has a minimum aging time of 6 years. This will be the most expensive cognac.
How to Make Sidecar Drink
Most classic cocktails use the same go to bartending tools that any experienced mixologist will have behind their bar. That being said, you will need your ingredients, shaker tin, and a chilled martini glass.
While its importance is often downplayed, using a chilled glass enhances the experience of many cocktail, much like this one. To make chilled glass: grab your favorite martini glass, fill it full with ice, and fill it with water. Set it aside while you make the cocktail.
Next up, grab that mixing tin. Combine all your ingredients with a handful of ice cubes and shake, shake, shake!
Discard water and ice out of the martini glass and pour the cocktail into it through a strainer.
Sugar Rim Or Not?
Many classic versions of this cocktail will have a sugar rim on the martini glass. This is totally an optional step that fits individual taste. You can use super fine sugar to make a sugar rim or leave the drink without. Personally, I do not like the sugar rim because it tastes away from the flavor of the cocktail and overpowers it with sweetness.
More Cocktail Recipes To Try
French 75 – a classic gin and champagne cocktail.
Lemon Drop Martini – perfect combination of vodka and lemon.
Cosmopolitan – another classic cocktail of vodka, Triple sec, cranberry juice, and lime juice.
Manhattan – historic and classic whiskey bourbon cocktail that you can also make with cognac.
- 2 oz cognac
- 1 1/2 oz Triple Sec or Cointreau
- 1/2 oz lemon juice
- 1/2 oz simple syrup
Chill the glass:
- Fill your favorite martini glass with ice and then, fill it with water. Set it aside while you make the cocktail.
Make the cocktail:
- Combine all your ingredients a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice cubes and shake, shake, shake!
- Discard water and ice out of the martini glass and pour the cocktail into it through a strainer.
- Serve and enjoy!