Sidecar #0
Citrus | Intense | Classic

Sidecar recipe

Sidecar cocktail

What is a Sidecar cocktail?

History and background

The Sidecar cocktail is one of the most popular cognac cocktails in the world. The exact date and location of the invention of the Sidecar cocktail is somewhat hazy but we know that it occurred some time around the end of the First World War. In France. Or was it England? The inspiration for the name is quite self-evident: it was the motorcycles of this era, which frequently had a sidecar attached to them. A few years later, in 1922, the cocktail recipe appeared in Harry MacElhone’s book Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails and in Robert Vermeire's Cocktails and How to Mix Them. In the first editions of MacElhone's book, he writes that the inventor of the cocktail was the popular bartender Pat MacGarry of Buck's Club in London.

The Ritz Hotel in Paris claims to have invented the Sidecar cocktail too. There are no written sources to prove this claim, though it could just as well be true. The proportions in the recipe underwent some changes over the years. The first recipes from 1922 resulted in a smoother, sweeter Sidecar with equal parts cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice. However, the recipe in the famous Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock, published in 1930, requires 2 parts cognac (or brandy), 1 part orange liqueur and 1 part lemon.

The Sidecar may have been the subject of much experimentation over the years but the original recipes are sublimely simple. Coating the rim of the glass with sugar is popular variation on the recipe. This gives the Sidecar cocktail drinker the option to make it sweeter. Lemon peel became the standard garnish for the Sidecar.

Flavour Sidecar cocktail

The Sidecar cocktail would never have become a worldwide success if it wasn't for the unique flavour profile of this cocktail. The Sidecar cocktail is an homage to cognac because the flavours and richness of this grape spirit positively sparkle in this drink. The sleek, rich and full-flavoured notes of the cognac cocktail are supplemented and intensified by the fruity orange liqueur and the fresh lemon juice. All three ingredients reinforce each other in this undisputed and endlessly fascinating cocktail classic.

Ingredients for Sidecar

How to make a Sidecar cocktail?

Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker two thirds of the way with ice cubes. Shake the cocktail for around 10 seconds and fine strain it into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish the cocktail with lemon zest and, optionally, a sugar rim.

What bar tools do you need to make a Sidecar cocktail?

  • Cocktail shaker
  • Jigger
  • Strainer
  • Fine strainer

Sidecar cocktail Garnish
Lemon zest


Sidecar cocktail recipe variations
Variation 1: Base Spirit
If you want to give the Sidecar cocktail a Dutch spin, replace the cognac with the typically Dutch spirit Bols Vieux. This classic Dutch brandy gives the Sidecar a unique flavour. If you want to add more herbal notes to the cocktail, while retaining the full flavours of a barrel-aged spirit, replace the cognac with Bols Barrel Aged Genever.

Variation 2: Modifier
The combination of cognac and the fresh, orangey notes of Bols Tripe Sec is what gives the Sidecar its unique flavour. Therefore, the orange liqueur is fairly essential to the Sidecar. If you want to keep this orange flavour but add more aged notes, switch out the Bols Triple Sec for Bols Dry Orange. A delicious variation that I particularly enjoy is a Sidecar with an extra dash of Bols Crème de Cassis. In addition to the flavours of the orange liqueur, the cocktail also gains beautiful blackcurrant notes.

Variation 3: Kumquat
Kumquat is becoming increasingly popular as a citrus flavour. This exotic, small fruit not only has clear fresh and sour citrus notes but also has a nice bittersweet flavour. A Sidecar with kumquat jam is a great alternative. You can make a kumquat jam by boiling kumquats with sugar and gelatine. Shake two teaspoons of this jam in your Sidecar for a delicious variation. If you would prefer to use a ready-made jam, add two teaspoons of marmalade to the Sidecar cocktail. It gives the cocktail additional, subtle bitter notes.

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