The Sidecar is a classic Prohibition Era cognac-based elixir made with Cointreau (orange liqueur) and fresh lemon juice. Similar to the Whiskey Sour but with a more sophisticated flavor profile thanks to the orange liqueur and unique depth of cognac. It’s one of my favorite easy-sipping drinks that I regularly work into my rotation of cocktails.
The Sidecar is classically served straight up in a coupe glass with a sugar rim. Although it’s something I typically omit at home, it does add an interesting sugary texture to every sip.
Like most classic cocktails that emerged during the Prohibition Era, its history is foggy and often debated. The earliest rendition of the cocktail was found in Harry McElhone’s book, Barflies and Cocktails, in 1927. This rendition actually used brandy, which later evolved into cognac.
To craft the perfect Sidecar, you will need three key ingredients: Cognac, Cointreau, and fresh lemon juice.
- Cognac: a fine brandy made from grapes rather than corn or grains, is typically enjoyed neat as an after-dinner drink. Its fruity undertones and smooth character make it a fantastic choice for whiskey lovers looking to explore new flavors.
- Cointreau (orange liqueur): while you can substitute triple sec for Cointreau, Cointreau has a smoother finish and is a bit higher in alcohol, making it a better match for cognac.
- Lemon juice: I always opt for freshly squeezed citrus, however, you can use bottled lemon juice in a pinch. My favorite option is ReaLemon.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.
How to Make a Sidecar Cocktail
For the sugar rim, coat the rim of the glass in orange/lemon juice. Place some sugar on a plate and twirl the glass in sugar to coat.
Combine all ingredients in a Boston shaker or mixing glass with plenty of ice. Stir vigorously for 15 seconds and double strain into a chilled coupe glass.
To make a fancy lemon peel garnish, trim the edges of a thin lemon peel with a sharp knife into your desired shape. A peeler works best for creating a thin peel. Garnish the cocktail with a twist of orange or lemon.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cognac is not whiskey. Cognac is a fine brandy made from grapes rather than corn or grains. It is distilled and aged for at least 2 years in French oak.
Yes. Replacing cognac with bourbon will render similar results to a whiskey sour. Brandy would be a better replacement.
Cointreau is the best option for this cocktail. Triple sec also works but it’s a little sweeter.
I really like Pierre Ferrand and Rémy Martin.
More Classic Cocktails
Enjoy this recipe? If you made this cocktail, please leave a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ star rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments!Print
The Sidecar is one of my favorite classic cocktails, consisting of Cognac, orange liqueur, and fresh lemon juice. A citrusy refreshing classic.
- 2 ounces cognac
- 3/4 ounce Cointreau
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice
- Optional sugar for rim
- For the sugar rim, coat the rim of the glass in orange/lemon juice. Twirl the glass in sugar to coat.
- Combine all ingredients in a Boston shaker or mixing glass with plenty of ice. Stir vigorously for 15 seconds and double strain into a chilled coupe glass.
- To make a fancy lemon peel garnish, trim the edges of a thin lemon peel with a sharp knife into your desired shape. A peeler works best for creating a thin peel. Garnish the cocktail with a twist of orange or lemon.
This cocktail can be made with Brandy in place of Cognac as a substitution. If you’re not a fan of either, try replacing it with Bourbon or Rye.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 177
- Sugar: 0.5g
- Sodium: 4mg
- Fat: 0.2g
- Saturated Fat: 0.2g
- Carbohydrates: 0.5g
- Fiber: 0.1g
- Protein: 0.2g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: sidecar recipe, sidecar cocktail