What’s in a Sidecar? Brandy or cognac, mixed with lemon juice, orange liqueur, and shaken with lots of ice. It’s simple, sophisticated, and totally refreshing.

Sidecar cocktails in two clear stemmed glasses.

You could probably visit ten different bars and order Sidecars in all of them, only to get a slightly different drink every time.

There are two main “schools” of thought regarding the recipe, though:

  • The French School, which uses equal parts cognac, cointreau, and lemon juice. This version is pretty sweet.
  • The English School, which uses two parts cognac, and one part each of cointreau and lemon juice.

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled ingredients for a sidecar cocktail.

Ingredient notes:

  • Cognac or brandy: Cognac must be made in the Cognac region of France. Brandy, however, can be made anywhere. Hennessy, Korbel, Presidente, are all fine choices for a mixed drink.
  • Orange liqueur: Triple Sec, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. In cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice.
    Liquor being poured into a martini shaker.
  2. Then shake vigorously until chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into chilled martini or coupe glass and serve.
    Sidecar cocktail being poured into a clear stemmed glass from a silver shaker.

Recipe notes and variations:

  • Glassware: Serve a Sidecar in a coupe glass or a small martini glass, the prettier the better.
  • Sugar rim: Spread some sugar on small plate, then rub a lemon wedge  around the rim of chilled martini or coupe glass. Tilt the side of the glass in the sugar to lightly coat the outside rim of glass.
  • Garnish: Take your pick: a lemon twist, an orange twist, or a sugared rim around the glass.
  • Customize: Once you master the classic Sidecar, you make your own adjustments based on your particular tastes. If the drink is too sour for you, for example, tone down the lemon juice by adding more brandy. Not sweet enough? Add a spoon of simple syrup.
  • Boston Sidecar Made with rum and brandy in equal parts and lime juice instead of lemon juice.
  • Chelsea Sidecar. (aka Delilah or White Lady) Uses gin instead of brandy or cognac.
  • Pisco Sidecar. A Peruvian sugar cane brandy, Pisco, stands in for the brandy and does a fine, fine job.

Sidecar cocktails in clear stemmed glasses.

More fun cocktails:

Sidecars in stemmed glasses.

Sidecar Cocktail

What's in a Sidecar? Brandy or cognac, mixed with lemon juice, orange liqueur, and shaken with lots of ice. It's simple, sophisticated, and totally refreshing.
5 from 2 votes
Cook Time 2 mins
Total Time 2 mins
Servings 1 cocktail
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Calories 168

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 ounces cognac or brandy (3 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 ounce orange liqueur or triple sec (1 ½ tablespoons)
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice (1 ½ tablespoons)
  • Ice as needed
  • 1 orange twist for garnish, optional

Instructions 

  • Chill glassware if desired: Coat the outside of a glass with water and freeze until serving time. Or, freeze dry glassware for 2 to 3 hours before serving.
  • To coat the rim of glass: Run a lemon wedge around the top of a glass.  Then, dip the top of the glass upside-down in a shallow dish of sugar.
  • Combine cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, cover, and shake until outside of shaker is very cold, about 20 seconds.
  • Strain cocktail into prepared glass and garnish with an orange twist.

Notes

  1. Cognac or brandy: Cognac must be made in the Cognac region of France. Brandy, however, can be made anywhere. Hennessy, Korbel, Presidente, are all fine choices for a mixed drink.
  2. Orange liqueur: Triple Sec, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier.
  3. Glassware: Serve a Sidecar in a coupe glass or a small martini glass, the prettier the better.
  4. Sugar rim: Spread some sugar on small plate, then rub a lemon wedge  around the rim of chilled martini or coupe glass. Tilt the side of the glass in the sugar to lightly coat the outside rim of glass.
  5. Garnish: Take your pick: a lemon twist, an orange twist, or a sugared rim around the glass.
  6. Customize: Once you master the classic Sidecar, you make your own adjustments based on your particular tastes. If the drink is too sour for you, for example, tone down the lemon juice by adding more brandy. Not sweet enough? Add a spoon of simple syrup.

Nutrition

Calories: 168kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 2mgSugar: 7gVitamin C: 8mg
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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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