Hop in the Sidecar Cocktail

The French trio will conclude with a quick post about one of my favorite cocktails – the Sidecar.  France is very much a wine culture and doesn’t have a many distinctive cocktails or liquors the way Gin and Pimm’s Cups are associated with England, Campari and amaro with Italy, or bourbon with the United States, but is does have absinthe and brandy. We are going with the brandy this time.

The sidecar is a cocktail with a simple ratio of brandy, cointreau, and lemon juice.  The oldest recipes I have seen start with an even ratio, like the Negroni, but like the Negroni you can modify it based on your preferences.  It is now served with a sugar rim, but I don’t really find that necessary.  I love the balance of a nice sidecar – I ordered so many of them that one of my regular watering holes just nicknamed me Sidecar at one point.  Similar to the Negroni, this platform can be used for many different drinks and variations.  Similar to a margarita, the exact proportions can be varied to suit your taste.  While no Brandy Crusta, this is a satisfying Brandy drink that I think fits spring and autumn particularly well. My preferred recipe follows:


Sidecar Mis en Place

  • 1.5oz Brandy
  • 1oz Cointreau or other dry orange liqueur
  • 1oz lemon juice

Sidecar 1

  1. Pre-chill your eventual serving glass.
  2. Add the ingredients to a mixing tin 2/3 full of ice.
  3. We have citrus, so we shake this drink with purpose.
  4. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass
  5. Garnish with lemon, I prefer a nice long chanel knife lemon curl, but a twist or wedge will do just as well.
  6. Enjoy.
  7. If you are doing the sugar rim, between steps 3 and 4, take a wedge of lemon and run it around the rim of the glass. Turn the glass upside down in a saucer of sugar or roll the outside edge of the glass in the saucer to create the rim. Continue with straining, garnishing, and enjoying.

As you can tell, I like my sidecars tangy.  The shot of lemon juice can be overpowering if you don’t give a good shake to the drink.  The richness of the brandy is accentuated in the cointreau but doesn’t linger because of the citrus.  The citrus acts to cut off the legs, if you will, of the drink. You can certainly use an expensive cognac in your sidecars, but choose carefully!  I prefer a mid-range, $20 to $30 bottle of brandy for my “rail” and it served well here.  Just one word of warning, the cheaper your brandy, the close you assuredly want even proportions.

Sidecar 2