The Sidecar Cocktail

The Sidecar cocktail is an iconic prohibition era drink. This classy cocktail’s history has a great deal of uncertainty. The most famous origin story is that in WWI, an American army captain riding in a friend’s motorcycle sidecar ordered the drink at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Whereas, Dale DeGroff believes that the Sidecar cocktail was born in New Orleans from a mix of leftover liquor poured into a shot glass.

Though the origin of this refreshing cocktail may not be known, cocktail historian David Wondrich states that in a time of bootleg booze, the Sidecar cocktail is:

“Often singled out as the only good cocktail to come out of the long national nightmare that was Prohibition.”

The Sidecar Recipe 

  • 2 oz Cognac or Brandy

  • 1 oz Orange Liqueur (Cointreau or Grand Marnier)

  • ¾ oz Lemon Juice

Fill your cocktail shaker with ice, and combine your Cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon juice.

Vigorously shake your ingredients for 10-15 seconds, or until the shaker is cold to the touch. Then, strain the contents into a cocktail glass (sugared rim optional).

Please note, the recipe for the Sidecar cocktail is heavily debated. The French recipe calls for three equal parts. The English recipe calls for two parts brandy and equal parts orange liqueur and lemon juice. When it comes to alcohol and acidity, some people like their drinks stronger or weaker. Tailor this recipe to your individual palate and enjoy!

Variations on The Sidecar Cocktail

The Brandy Crusta is known for being the precursor to the Sidecar cocktail. This cocktail is a delicious blend of cognac (2 oz), orange liqueur (¼ oz), lemon juice (½ oz), simple syrup (½ oz), maraschino liqueur (¼ oz), and several dashes of Embitterment Orange Bitters. However, what sets the Brandy Crusta apart is its special consideration of garnishes. A proper Brandy Crusta should be served in a coupe glass with a sugared rim and a lemon twist.

Potentially a failed Sidecar, the Margarita may be the most well known variation of this cocktail. It’s uncertain where the Margarita originated, but in 1937 at the Cafe Royal in London the Picador was first made. A failed Sidecar substituting Tequila and lime for Cognac and lemon, the Picador may be the missing link in the evolution from the Sidecar cocktail to the Margaritas we know today.

A distinct variation of the Sidecar cocktail is Mark’s Sidecar. Combining your three ingredients with the addition of maraschino liqueur and a few dashes of Embitterment Aromatic Bitters, Mark’s Sidecar has a phenomenal flavor profile.

Garnishing Your Sidecar

The Sidecar cocktail is traditionally garnished with a lemon twist. However, some prefer to garnish their cocktail with an orange peel and/or maraschino cherry to compliment the orange liqueur.

To enhance your Sidecar cocktail, a few dashes of Orange Bitters floating on the top, will give your drink a fragrant pop.