Ladies and gentleman this one is a classic through and through. Also, it’s named after motorcycle things! That’s a pretty cool drink if you ask us! Simple and elegant, like most of the classics, the Sidecar is beloved throughout the world and has been a staple at bars for decades.

The Sidecar is a simple drink with  Cognac, lemon juice, and an orange liqueur. (Hmmm, I feel like we just talked about those in our latest “What Is?” Wink.)

The Sidecar is typically served up, in a martini glass or coupe. Different variations have included sugared and non sugared rim for the glass but if you garnish with an orange rind (to go with the liqueur) this drink is Classy all the way. Capital C intentional.

This drink is a staple of any good bartenders Rolodex of classic cocktails. If you’ve never had one you’re in for a treat. If you’re an old fan perhaps there’s some history behind it you dont know about. We got you.

A brief history:

The exact origin of the sidecar is unclear, but it is thought to have been invented around the end of World War I in either London or Paris. The drink was directly named for the motorcycle attachment, you know, the little seat bucket on the side of a motorcycle in all the old war movies!

The Ritz Hotel in Paris claims the origin of the drink. The first recipes for the Sidecar appear in 1922, in Harry MacElhone's, "Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails," and Robert Vermeire's "Cocktails and How to Mix Them."

In early editions of MacElhone's book, he cites the inventor as Pat MacGarry, "the popular bartender at Buck's Club, London", but in later editions he cites himself. Sneaky sneaky mister MacElhone. 

Vermieres book states that the drink was "very popular in France. It was first introduced in London by MacGarry, the celebrated bartender of Buck's Club." 

Both MacElhone and Vermiere state the recipe as equal parts cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice, now known as "the French school". 

Later, an "English school" of sidecars emerged, as found in the Savoy Cocktail Book from 1930, which call for two parts cognac and one part each of Cointreau and lemon juice. Either way, you’re getting a good drink. (English all the way!)

The earliest mention of sugaring the rim on a sidecar glass is 1934, in a book called Burke's Complete Cocktail & Drinking Recipes. Like we said earlier, we’ll leave sugaring up to you. 

Random Fact

A sidecar shot is an old timely way of asking for shot of any alcohol that was over poured in the making of a cocktail. So if you’ve got an old timey bartend be clear in what you’re asking for. Drink or shot.

The Sidecar is a great classic cocktail to enjoy on these hot August nights, or poolside on a sunny afternoon. Delicious, kinda crisp kinda sweet cocktail that makes you glad you’re not driving a motorcycle in WWI. 

Let us know in the comments how you like your sidecars, whether you sugar or not (orange rind!) and if you have any amazing recipe variations. We’re all ears! Thanks for reading and as always...

Cheers from,

Happy Hour City