How To Make a Sidecar Cocktail
Photo: TravisLincoln(Getty Images)
In the world of cocktail mixing the word “classic” gets thrown around often, both for drinks which deserve it and for those who definitely don’t. Well, the Sidecar falls into a small and different bracket of drinks that are classics but don’t get mentioned and ordered as nearly as much as they should. A classic cocktail in its origin, look, and taste, Sidecar deserves to be as recognized as his cocktail “relatives” – the Martini and the Manhattan. When you learn how to make one you’ll join the crusade to make it renowned, and especially when you realize how easy it is to make it.
Like most of the cocktails its origin is not clear, although it is known that it was first made in Europe, most likely Paris, after the end of World War I. The famed Ritz Hotel in Paris claims to have originated the drink. While London gets mentioned as another possible place of origin for the Sidecar drink, it is really more likely that the cocktail has its roots in France because of the main ingredient.
The name Sidecar was chosen because, allegedly, an American Army captain who often visited a bar in Paris once asked for a drink to warm him up before dinner. Since pure cognac was not an appropriate drink for so early in the night, the bartender mixed him up a cocktail. And since the captain’s choice of transportation was his friend’s sidecar, the motorcycle attachment, the name for the cocktail was a natural choice. Another war-born classic cocktail with an interesting name is the also elegant French 75.
Like so many classic cocktails, Sidecar is served in a cocktail glass, which you should cool off in the freezer. Usually, you can do it with ice too, but for the Sidecar, it’s best to use the freezer and you’ll realize why soon enough.
The main ingredient of the Sidecar is cognac, which is a type of brandy specific to a region around the French town bearing the same name. Since brandy is just a spirit produced by distilling wine, and since France is known for its wine, you may expect a quality drink and not be wrong. If you are totally oblivious to the existence of cognac, well, you’re not. You just didn’t connect the famous Hennesy and Courvasier to the type of drink they are – cognacs.
Since the drink has a non-alcoholic ingredient, you’ll be making it in a shaker in order for all the liquids to come together. So bring out your shaker, and pour two ounces of cognac into it, followed by an ounce of Cointreau, which is an orange liqueur, so you can use another brand if you have it at hand.
Now you should add three-quarters of an ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and it would be wise to pour it through a strainer so that no pulp finds its way into this very sophisticated-looking drink. It’s well worth the extra effort if you’re already making the Sidecar in its classic way.
Then take out the cocktail glass from the freezer and let it condensate just a bit. Since the Sidecar is a sour drink, you might want to negate that a little bit by putting a sugar rim on it. Take a saucer and pour sugar on it, or caster sugar, ideally. Since the glass has condensed slightly, gently roll the edges of the glass on the sugar and you’ll get that even sugar rim without much hassle. Caster sugar is great because it allows for a more uniformed look than what normal sugar allows.
Now add ice to the shaker, seal it up and give it a nice shake. Now again it is time to use the strainer (a clean one!) and pour the content of the shaker through it into the serving glass.
As with most cocktails, the Sidecar is also not finished without a garnish. Peel a piece of an orange, place it over the glass with the white part facing you and give it a gentle squeeze. Twist it up and put it in the drink.
All you have to do now is to enjoy the Sidecar, and optionally to tell us how did you like it in the comments below.