Sidecar

by Gaz Regan · Friday, January 27th, 2012 · gaz's Cocktail Book

Sidecar
45 ml (1.5 oz) cognac
30 ml (1 oz) Cointreau
15 ml (.5 oz) fresh lemon juice
1 lemon twist for garnish*
Shake over ice and strain into a chilled, sugar-rimmed cocktail glass.  Add the garnish.

*Yes, traditionally the Sidecar gets a sugar-rim, but I don’t like sugar rims.  If you really have to do it, though, please coat just half of the rim so that we troublesome bastards can make our own decisions.

The Sidecar’s Family
The Sidecar is the first known member of the New Orleans Sour family, a group of drinks calling for a base spirit, an orange-flavored liqueur, and citrus juice.  I named this family “New Orleans Sours” in The Joy of Mixology, giving a nod to “Santina, a celebrated Spanish caterer” who worked in the Big Easy in the mid-1800s, and was credited by Jerry Thomas in his 1862 book, How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion) as having invented the Crusta category.  Other drinks in this family include the Margarita, the Cosmopolitan, the Kamikaze, and the Lemon Drop.

Takes on the Sidecar

David Wondrich’s Sidecar

Robert Hess’ Sidecar

Eben Freeman’s Sidecar

Andy Gemmell’s Sidecar

The Roots of the Sidecar
No discussion of the Sidecar can be complete without mention of the Brandy Crusta, a drink found in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 book, How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion.  The drink is made with brandy, curaçao, simple syrup, bitters, and lemon juice.  It’s basically a Sidecar with bitters.  (An easier-to-see-at-a-glance recipe is featured in his second book, pictured below.)

Recipe for the Brandy Crusta found in Jerry Thomes’ 1887 book

The Bar-Tender’s Guide or How to Mix all Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks

Sidecar Bits and Bats

A Bar in London

Robert Vermiere, author of the 1922 book, Cocktails, How to Mix Them, contended that “[The Sidecar] is very popular in France. It was first introduced in London by MacGarry, the celebrated bar-tender of Buck’s Club.”

A Bar In Paris
“[The Sidecar] was invented by a friend of mine at a bar in Paris during World War I and was named after the motorcycle sidecar in which the good captain customarily was driven to and from the little bistro where the drink was born and christened.”  The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, 2nd edition, by David A. Embury,1952.

A Bar in New York

“On my night off I went visiting a few places—busman’s holiday.  In one place, the young bartender approached me for the order.  He said he could make any kind of drink I wanted.  So just for the fun of it I said, ‘Could you suggest something in the line of a cocktail?’

‘Yes sir, just let me make it, and you’ll like it.’

Sure enough he made one, and the minute I tasted it I knew it was a sidecar cocktail that I had originated many years ago.  I was rather surprised myself, and, over the young man’s objections, I almost but not quite convinced him that it was the drink that I originated.”  My 35 Years Behind Bars: Memories and Advice of a Bartender, Including a Liquor Guide by Johnny Brooks.  New York, Exposition Press: 1954.

A Foreign Importation

“The ‘Sidecar’ and `Presidente’ cocktails are among the foreign importations that have a considerable following.  Red Jay Bartender’s Guide.  (No author credited)  Philadelphia: Dr. D. Jayne and Son, Inc, 1934.

Sidecar Variations

Credits reflect location of creator when they created the drink.

Apple Sidecar
Adapted from a recipe by Ryan Magarian, Portland, Oregon
45 ml (1.5 oz) vodka
15 ml (.5 oz) apple brandy
30 ml (1 oz) fresh lemon juice
30 ml (1 oz) simple syrup
15 ml (.5 oz) fresh tangerine juice
Shredded tangerine zest, for garnish
Shake over ice and strain into a chilled, sugar-rimmed cocktail glass.  Add the garnish.

Autumn Sidecar
Adapted from a recipe by Trudy Thomas, Liquid Remedy, Inc, Phoenix, AZ.
Splash of agave nectar
2 Slices of Orange
2 fresh basil leaves
45 ml (1.5 oz) [yellow tail] Chardonnay
15 ml (.5 oz) brandy
Splash of Grand Marnier
1 orange twist, as garnish
In an empty mixing glass, muddle together the agave nectar, orange slices, and basil leaves.  Add ice, the [yellow tail] chardonnay and the brandy. Shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with sugar.  Float the Grand Marnier and add the garnish.

Bistro Sidecar
Adapted from a recipe by Chef Kathy Casey, Kathy Casey Food Studios, Seattle.
45 ml (1.5 oz) brandy
15 ml (.5 oz) Tuaca
15 ml (.5 oz) Frangelico
7.5 ml (.25 oz) fresh lemon juice
7.5 ml (.25 oz) fresh tangerine juice
1 roasted hazelnut, for garnish
Shake over ice and strain into a chilled, sugar-rimmed cocktail glass rimmed.  Add the garnish.

Mexican Sidecar
Adapted from a recipe by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Head Bartender at El Vaquero, Eugene, Oregon.
30 ml (1 oz) Presidente Mexican brandy
30 ml (1 oz) Patron Citronge orange liqueur
30 ml (1 oz) fresh lemon juice
1 lemon twist, for garnish
Shake over ice and strain into a sugar-rimmed chilled cocktail glass.  Add the garnish.

Sidecar (Redux)
Adapted from a recipe by Thad Vogler, San Francisco
If you can’t lay your hands on a bottle of the Osocalis Alambic brandy called for in this drink, just use the finest aged brandy you have on hand.  If you don’t have the Qi White Tea liqueur, though, you just can’t make this one properly.  Sorry!
45 ml (1.5 oz) Osocalis Alambic brandy
22.5 ml (.75 oz)  Qi White Tea liqueur
22.5 ml (.75 oz)  fresh lemon juice
Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Sommelier’s Sidecar
Adapted from a recipe by Duggan McDonnell, Cantina, San Francisco, circa 2008.
Chances are that you won’t be able to find the single-barrel riesling brandy called for in this recipe since it was made specifically for Duggan McDonnell’s bar, Cantina, at the St. George Spirits distillery in Alameda.  Just substitute the very best brandy you can lay your hand on-this is a fabulous drink.
45 ml (1.5 oz) single-barrel riesling brandy
22.5 ml (.75 oz)  sauternes
15 ml (.5 oz) Cointreau
15 ml (.5 oz) Meyer lemon juice
1 dash simple syrup
2 dashes orange bitters
1 grapefruit twist, for garnish
Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Add the garnish.

2 Responses to “Sidecar”

  1. Michael Butt says:

    My favourite sidecar variation is on the menu at MEATLiquor in london. Developed originally in Quo Vadis as a way to inebriate even the most practised and hardened drinkers it is really simple. Take the classic recipe – as listed in the post. Lightly shake to mix, pour into a frozen heavy tankard and top with good cider.
    At Quo they use Breton cider to stick with the French ingredients (sometimes necessitating a small dash of syrup for the sweeter tooth), MEATLiquor use Weston’s Wyld Wood, nee Weston’s organic, which is slightly less dry and pleasingly stronger (the widely available Weston’s Vintage 2010 at 8.3% is even more effective)

    CYDER CAR (to fit 140z tankard)
    40ml Cognac
    25ml Cointreau
    15ml Lemon juice
    80ml Cider

    shake first three ingredients, strain and top with cider.
    Garnish with apple and lemon if needed

    • Gaz Regan says:

      Thanks for this, Michael. Sounds good. Back in the 70s we used to drink Pernod and cider as a sure-fire way to get drunk quickly. Any idea who developed this recipe at Quo?

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