Cocktail of the Week #1: The Sidecar

‘Lo there! Welcome to the first “Cocktail of the Week” post, where we chronicle a cocktail and dissect its recipe secrets. Our subject for today is the classic libation and eminent daisy child, The Sidecar.

To make a Sidecar, you’ll need: Cognac, Orange Liqueur and Lemon Juice. For the Orange Liqueur, Cointreau or Grand Marnier work well, but if all you’ve got is Triple Sec, that’ll do.

This cocktail fits the 2:1:1 ratio nicely, with 2oz of Cognac to 1oz Orange Liqueur to 1oz Lemon Juice. But depending on your tastes, you might want a 4:1:1 ratio (2oz to ½oz to ½oz) for a drier Sidecar or a 3:2:1 (1½oz to ¾oz to ¾oz) for a sweeter version. These days I like the 8:3:3 (2oz to ¾oz to ¾oz) myself and it’s worth noting that this is a popular ratio at PDT. Posers for the win!

Anyway. Take these ingredients and shake them with ice, then strain into a sugar-rimmed chilled coupe. For those of you who are not experienced rimmers (hrrm…), here’s a primer: you want the sugar on the outside, not the inside. Do this by moistening the rim of the glass with a lemon wedge. Then slowly roll the outer edge of the glass along a small dish of (preferably raw) sugar.

Besides ratios, you can also change ingredients to affect the flavor. For example, Hennessy V.S. (my go-to cognac) is dry, so I can use a 3:2:1 ratio and not produce an overly sweet drink. Similarly, Cointreau is neutral compared to Grand Marnier, so the latter will give more body to your Sidecar.

To me, the Sidecar is like a great t-shirt. You can enjoy it whether it’s hot or cold out and once you get find the fit for you, there are few things more comforting. It’s easy to experiment with (okay we’re getting out of t-shirt territory here), allowing a novice to try out ratios, substitutions and modifications. Here’s some stuff to play around with:

  1. Make three (small!) versions of the Sidecar, with the ratios 4:1:1, 2:1:1 and 3:2:1, and do a taste test.
  2. Use a drier ratio (4:1:1 or 8:3:3) and add a barspoon (~1/8oz) of non-orange liqueur.
  3. Substitute the cognac/brandy with another spirit. Try something logical, like bourbon and then try something more experimental, such as mezcal.

Questions? Comments? Discoveries you need to share before you go to bed half-drunk? Let us know.

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One thought on “Cocktail of the Week #1: The Sidecar

  1. […] meaning “Old Square”, is one of New Orleans’s most famous cocktails. Unlike last week’s entry, this is a stirred affair that, as you’ll see, is surprisingly easy to drink (or, as my […]

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