The Sidecar


Sidecar
The Sidecar is a classic recipe, and there are a few ways to make it. First, this is the recipe I use:

Sidecar

1 oz brandy

1 oz Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)

1 oz homemade sour mix

Rim a chilled cocktail glass with sugar. Shake ingredients with ice until very cold, then strain into the rimmed glass.

The Variations

The first question is what kind of brandy to use. I use a VSOP from the Cognac region that doesn’t qualify as “cognac,” probably because it’s not made with one of the three Cognac grape varietals. The International Bartenders Association doesn’t even mention an allowance for brandies other than cognacs. So if you prefer to be fancy, or there’s a cognac that just happens to be your favorite brandy, then use cognac as the base spirit in your recipe.

Of course, you’ll also have to choose your orange liqueur. Any triple-sec or curaçao will do, but I always choose Cointreau (KWAN-trow). I tasted it once, and I’ll never be able to go back. Grand Marnier (marn-YAY) is another high-quality choice, but too sharp for my tastes. It’s a clearly subjective choice, of course.

The next question is one of proportions. I like orange to really come out in this drink, and so I use the equal-measurements version. I also like my drinks to be small, so I only include two total ounces of liquor. Another often-cited version of the recipe uses two ounces of brandy to one ounce of orange liqueur. This will lower the orange component, leading to a more dark-fruit flavored sidecar, while making the drink a full ounce larger.

The final question is one that I could see a good number of cocktail geeks wince at the moment they saw it in my recipe: the sour mix. Sour mix is a really divisive topic among bartenders: the pragmatists love it, the artisans hate it. I love it if it’s good, and I hate it if it’s bad. I never buy my sour mix from a store (unless I need it sugar-free), but I make it at home (more on that in another article).

Classic Sidecar

1 oz or 2 oz brandy

1 oz Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)

1 oz lemon juice

Rim a chilled cocktail glass with sugar. Shake ingredients with ice until very cold, then strain into the rimmed glass.

The more traditional ingredient is unsweetened lemon juice. I find a sidecar too sour with pure lemon juice. My homemade sour mix works beautifully for me, but then, I like a particularly sweet sidecar. Here are some options with which to experiment:

  • 1 oz. sour mix
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice, 1/4 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice, 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1 oz lemon juice, bar-spoon superfine sugar

A sidecar is a fantastic drink, but there are a hundred ways to make it. Tell me your best recipe in the comments!

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