Oh, the delicious Sidecar: a classic cocktail recipe that screams “sophistication.” With its delicate balance of brandy, citrus juice, and bit of sweetness, this vintage drink has stood the test of time and remains a favorite for cocktail enthusiasts and pro bartenders.

And if you’re like me, you feel really fancy when you order it at a craft bar.

Today, Chris guides you through making his version of the perfect Sidecar– with variations. So read on, and make sure to watch the video below!

History of the Sidecar Mixed Drink

Like so many classic mixed drinks, the origins of the classic Sidecar cocktail are somewhat muddled (no pun intended).

Supposedly named after the side seat attachment on motorcycles, it’s believed by some to have been invented towards the end of World War I (1917-1918 range)– although it’s usually considered a classic 1920s cocktail because the first recipe for it was actually published in 1922.

Even the location of origin is debated: It’s believed to have emerged in the glamorous cocktail scene of either Paris or London. Wherever it came from, the Sidecar rose to popularity during the Prohibition era, becoming an iconic drink in high-end establishments.


Sour cocktail in a cocktail glass with sugar

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Ingredients for a Sidecar Drink

This simple cocktail is a well-balanced sour drink that continues to hold its own in the world of mixology, with only a few core ingredients:

  • Brandy: The backbone of the Sidecar, brandy brings richness and depth. Opt for a quality brandy with a smooth and balanced flavor profile. Just make sure not to make the mistake I did and accidentally grab a bottle of flavored brandy. Whoops!
  • Orange Liqueur: Cointreau (or triple sec) is used in the Sidecar to add a touch of sweetness and enhance the citrus notes.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: Lemon juice provides the essential tartness and bright acidity that balances the sweetness of the other ingredients. Make sure to save the peel or have more fruit on hand to create the lemon twist garnish. (Alternatively, you could do an orange twist to play off the Cointreau.)
  • Simple Syrup (optional): If you prefer a slightly sweeter Sidecar, you can add a splash of simple syrup, a mixture of equal parts sugar and water. Or you can just up the Cointreau a little bit to adjust the levels of sweetness without adding a new ingredient.


Sidecar in a chilled glass

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Sidecar Cocktail Variations

While the classic Sidecar is pretty darn great, here are a few variations to experiment with:

  • Whiskey Sidecar: Substitute brandy with whiskey, such as bourbon or rye, to add a distinctive depth and character to the drink.
  • Vodka Sidecar: For a modern twist, replace brandy with vodka for a lighter and more neutral base, allowing the citrus and orange liqueur to shine. This is a great option if you’re not the hugest fan of the distinctive flavor of brandy.
  • Spiced Sidecar: Infuse your Sidecar with warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, or star anise by muddling them in the shaker or adding a dash of spiced syrup.

This brandy cocktail is an excellent balance of sweet, citrus, and sour flavors. It’s perfect for any occasion or season, but it’s an especially popular recipe in the fall and winter. We hope you love it as much as we do– Leave a comment and let us know which version is your favorite. Cheers!



This is – almost – the classic Sidecar cocktail… but it’s my favorite recipe and I find it’s just a bit more balanced.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Drinks


  • 1.5 oz VS or VSOP Cognac
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 0.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Orange Peel For Garnish
  • Sugar To rim the glass


  • Rim a cocktail or martini glass with sugar and set aside.
  • Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Shake to mix and chill.
  • Fine-strain into your prepared glass and garnish with a piece of orange peel.