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Sidecar Cocktail Recipe

This Sidecar cocktail recipe offers a harmonious blend of tart and sweet flavors.

It’s a roaring 1920s drink that’s as iconic as it is easy to make. Featuring Cognac and Cointreau, it’s deeply flavorful yet wonderfully bright and citrusy.

Whether you’re a fan of classic cocktails or new to the world of mixology, enjoying a Sidecar is like taking a sip of history.

Two glasses of sidecar cocktail garnished with orange peel
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Sidecar Cocktail

As you can probably guess from its retro name, the Sidecar cocktail has been around for a while.

Unfortunately, nobody really knows the exact origins. All we know for sure is that it first appeared sometime during WWI.

So yes, it’s a bit old-fashioned, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious! In fact, the truth is precisely the opposite.

There’s a lot to love about this classic drink.

It’s crisp, dry, tart, and refreshing. And the sugared rim adds a hint of sweetness to balance it all out.

With 2 ounces of Cognac and a 3/4 ounce of Cointreau, it certainly packs a punch.

It’ll remind you of a Negroni or other aperitifs. So if that’s your thing, you’ll love it!

Sidecar cocktail being poured in a wine glass with a sugar rim

Ingredients

You won’t need much for this yummy cocktail – just a few simple ingredients.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cognac. You can’t go wrong with Hennessy or Rémy Martin. If you don’t have Cognac, use any decent brand of brandy.
  • Cointreau. Traditionally, Cointreau is the orange liqueur of choice for this one. It’s one of the best around, with the smoothest finish. But any good-quality triple sec works in a pinch.
  • Lemon Juice. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: freshly squeezed is the only way to go when making cocktails. Avoid the bottled stuff.
  • Sugar and Lemon Wedge. These are optional ingredients for rimming the glass, but your Sidecar just won’t be the same without them.
  • Garnish. Again, the garnish is optional. But the traditional orange peel (or twist) is a nice touch. It makes the drink look polished and gives it a little extra dose of citrusy goodness.

You also need ice, of course. But only to chill the drink. Unlike many other cocktail recipes, you don’t add ice to the cocktail glass for serving.

How to Make a Sidecar Cocktail

Follow these simple steps to make the classic Sidecar:

1. Mix the ice, Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker.

2. Shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds until the shaker is chilled.

3. Rim the glass with lemon juice, then dip it into a shallow bowl of sugar.

4. Strain the cocktail from the shaker into the prepared glass.

5. Garnish with orange peel and serve.

Boozy sidecar cocktail in glasses with a bottle of Cointreau

Tips and Tricks

Here are a few tips and tricks to remember when mixing your drink:

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  • Chill the glass. Place the cocktail glass in the freezer or fill it with ice water for a few minutes prior to pouring. Doing so ensures a cooler, more refreshing cocktail.
  • Pick a high-quality Cognac. If you’re a fan of Cognac cocktails, you’ll know that quality matters. VS or VSOP grades are recommended for a balanced Sidecar.
  • Adjust the bite. Feel free to add a splash of simple syrup if it’s too tart.
  • Use superfine sugar for the rim. It stays on better and provides a better mouthfeel.
  • No Cointreau? No problem! Mix 50 grams (1.76 ounces) of marmalade with 170 ml (5.74 ounces) of vodka and strain. This homemade version is good for up to a week in the fridge.

Variations

The recipe at the bottom is for a classic Sidecar. It’s tried and true and super delicious.

But the beauty of making cocktails at home is that you can tweak them however you like.

So, here are a few recipe variations to try:

The Bourbon Sidecar swaps Cognac for bourbon. It’s a little sweeter but just as flavorful.

The Pisco Sidecar exchanges Cognac for Pisco. It’s sweeter again but way more fruity and bright.

The Delilah ditches the Cognac for gin. Needless to say, this is a very different drink. It’s light, crisp, and wonderfully floral.

The Balalaika calls for rum instead of Cognac.

The Between the Sheets uses a mix of brandy and rum. So it’s got a similar flavor with sweet hints of vanilla.

When to Serve a Sidecar Cocktail

As with most drinks, you can serve the Sidecar whenever you want!

If you’re craving one at 2:30 in the morning after having a bad dream, you do you, Boo!

Still, there are a few more traditional times to serve this classic cocktail, such as:

  • Before dinner, as an aperitif
  • As an after dinner drink, aka a digestif
  • With dinner
  • Happy hour
  • Cocktail hour
  • As a nightcap
  • For any special occasion or party

Remember, there’s no WRONG time to serve a Sidecar. Just be sure to serve it in a chilled glass with a sugared rim.

More Classic Cocktails You’ll Love

John Collins
Southside Cocktail
Godfather Cocktail
Toronto Cocktail
Blood and Sand

Sidecar Cocktail

Course: Recipes, DrinksCuisine: French
Serving

1

servings
Prep time

5

minutes
Calories

155

kcal

This Sidecar cocktail recipe offers a harmonious blend of tart and sweet flavors. It’s a roaring 1920s drink that’s as iconic as it is easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Cognac

  • 3/4 ounce Cointreau

  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • lemon wedge and sugar, for the rim (optional)

  • orange peel or twist, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Freeze a cocktail glass for 10-15 minutes. Or fill it with ice water and set aside.
  • In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice. Shake vigorously until well chilled.
  • Take the glass out of the freezer or discard the ice water. Then, run the lemon wedge around the rim and dip it into a small plate of sugar.
  • Strain the drink into the chilled glass, garnish with an orange twist, and enjoy!

Notes

  • Adjust the bite. Feel free to add a splash of simple syrup if it’s too tart.
  • Use superfine sugar for the rim. It stays on better and provides a better mouthfeel.
Sidecar Cocktail Recipe

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author avatar
NaTaya Hastings
NaTaya Hastings is a food and recipe writer for Good Recipes. She’s an educator, boy mom, dog mom, and whatever-stray-enters-the-yard mom. As a result, she's constantly cooking for both humans and animals.

Luckily, she enjoys it!

Though born, raised, and still living in Alabama, her specialty is NOT down-home Southern cooking. Instead, she loves to experiment with Asian, Mexican, Italian, and other ethnic cuisines. She has two mottos when it comes to cooking. “The more spice, the better!” and “There’s no such thing as too much garlic!”

She’s also pretty good with desserts. Especially the easy, no-bake ones.

Her favorite things are cuddling with her four giant dogs, traveling, reading, writing, and hanging out in nature. She’s also pretty excellent at Dominoes.

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