Sidecar Recipe & Cocktail History

With over a century of razzle-dazzling under its belt, the Sidecar is truly one of the greatest cognac drinks out there.

The Sidecar recipe is one of the many great things to come out of New Orleans. And today, glorious compatriot, we embark on its history and how to make one yourself.

Table of Contents

The Story Behind the Sidecar Cocktail

How did a drink such as the Sidecar come to be? How could such a perfect combination of spirits — French Cognac, Spanish curaçao, orange liqueur (the possibilities are endless) — come to be?

Well, the answer is New Orleans. This is one of America’s most infamous cities, if not its most infamous, but it’s earned the right to party. This city alone has been part of three countries in as many centuries, belonging alternately to France, Spain, and the United States. French culture really lent its flavor to the city — and fun fact: that Cajun culture you hear so much about actually came from the Maritime Provinces of Canada, whence the Acadians were deported by the British in the 1700s.

And so we have the New Orleans of the early 1900s. Jazz was beginning to congeal from the liquid influences of European brass music and African drums. It was a great place to party, and like any party, some booze was needed.

Sidecar…I Am Your Father

This is why so many cocktails have come from The Big Easy. There’s the Sazerac, the Hurricane…and then the Sidecar. And to tell that story, we must go even earlier to a drink called the Brandy Crusta.

Also a New Orleans native, the Brandy Crusta came to being in the 1800s when a cocktail was strictly a mix of water, sugar, bitters, and spirits. This drink broke the mold in several ways. For starters, there was a decadent sugar rim that added some magic sweetness to every sip. There was also a lemon added to the glass.

Heresy! Citrus was simply not added to cocktails back in the 1800s, at least not for those who weren’t trying to fight scurvy. But wouldn’t you know it, the Brandy Crusta tasted pretty damn good. It really made the cut into popular culture when it was published in Jerry Thomas’ 1962 book, How to Mix Drinks.

The Birth of the Sidecar Recipe

And so the stage is set for the Sidecar. This drink was likely born around the time of the first World War. By 1922 it had landed in two mixology books. Though these early publications called for equal parts lemon juice, Cointreau, and Cognac, recipes soon got more creative.

One common variation called for one part lemon juice, one part Cointreau, and two parts Cognac. Yee, and we can’t stress this enough, haw.

The Sidecar’s name is a matter of some contention, and it’s also New Orleans in a nutshell: both an English and a French bar take credit for it.

Anyway, the story goes that someone arrived at their bar in a motorcycle’s sidecar. That’s it.

It could also reference that bonus cocktail that’s left in the shaker after straining a drink. This bit of drink is served in a shot glass and goes by the name Sidecar. So there’s that. Choose your fantasy.

sidecar recipe

The Sidecar Recipe

Among our most spectacular cocktail recipes is that of the Sidecar. This drink is appropriate for so many different moods and types of parties, but no matter where it goes, it always tends to be a mood lifter.

  • Prep Time 3 Minutes
  • Cook Time 2 Minutes
  • Total Time 5 Minutes
  • Serves 1 People
  • Calories 255 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1-½ oz. cognac
  • ¾ oz. orange liqueur like Cointreau
  • ¾ oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • Orange twist (for garnish)
  • Sugar rim (for style points)

Instructions

  1. Coat the rim of that glass with sugar.
  2. Fill a shaker with ice.
  3. Pour the Cognac, lemon juice, and orange liqueur into the shaker and shake until the drink is thoroughly chilled.
  4. Strain the mix into your glass.
  5. Add an orange twist for garnish, and enjoy.
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Brooklyn native, accent-having, travel lover, wordsmith and bud enthusiast. Versed from the streets of NYC, mixed with some world influence, writer/editor and medical user extraordinaire, JJ is here to tell you like it is and guide you to the finest. Brooklyn's favorite feminine stoner, your neighborhood contributor, wrapping leaves like a bandage and bringing you along for the ride.

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