Sidecar Cocktail Recipe

An enchanting cocktail of brandy, lemon juice, and orange liqueur.

sidecar cocktail

Liz Voltz

Why This Recipe Works

  • Using a nice (but not outrageously old or expensive) VSOP cognac, a good Armagnac, or an excellent California brandy ensures this cocktail turns out well.
  • This recipe uses a bit more Cointreau than lemon, but it's also amenable to tinkering.

Some of the greatest drinks in the mixological canon are deceptive in their simplicity. Consider the Old Fashioned, the Daiquiri, the gin Martini—preparing a cup of coffee in the morning is more complicated than making these drinks. But through the basic combination of two or three ingredients, with some ice thrown in for excitement, a perfect match of flavors can be achieved.

Add another drink to this list: the Sidecar. As with most cocktails, the origins of the drink are hazy (be suspicious of those who state with certainty when or where the Sidecar was first mixed), but this entrancing mixture of brandy, lemon juice, and orange liqueur started making the rounds in the most fashionable watering holes in London and Paris during the 1920s. Very simple in structure, the Sidecar is complex enough in flavor to satisfy even the most jaded palates, but not so over-the-top with mixological gewgaws as to frighten away the casual tippler.

Two quick things to consider when mixing a Sidecar: first, quality matters. Use a cheap mass-market brandy or a cut-rate triple sec, and your Sidecar's gonna suck.

This is a time when you want to break out a nice (but not outrageously old or expensive) VSOP cognac, a good Armagnac or an excellent California brandy such as Germain-Robin. For the orange liqueur, pretty much only Cointreau has the right mixture of dryness and sweetness to make a Sidecar sing (and as for the lemon, just make sure it's fresh and tasty).

Second: Feel free to tinker with the proportions. Early recipes call for equal amounts of the three ingredients, which is way too boring for most people. Many guides call for a 2:1:1 ratio of brandy:lemon:Cointreau, but for some, that's too tart. I'm going with a tad more Cointreau than lemon, to help everything hold in balance—but I encourage you to do as I did, and wiggle with the proportions to find the mix that's right for your taste.


Click Play to Learn How to Make an Enchanting Sidecar Cocktail

November 2010

Recipe Details

Sidecar Cocktail Recipe

Prep 5 mins
Active 1 min
Total 5 mins
Serves 1 serving

An enchanting cocktail of brandy, lemon juice, and orange liqueur.


  • 2 ounces VSOP Cognac, Armagnac, or good California brandy

  • 1 ounce Cointreau

  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

  • Superfine sugar, for garnish (optional)

  • Orange or lemon twist, for garnish (optional)


  1. Optional: Prepare cocktail glass by making a slit in a lemon wedge and running the cut edge around the rim of the glass; then dip the rim in a saucer of superfine sugar to create a thin crust. Chill the glass until needed.

    a coupe glass with a salt rim, orange slices behind

    Liz Voltz

  2. Combine brandy, Cointreau, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake well until chilled, about 10 seconds. Strain into prepared glass; garnish with a twist of orange or lemon peel, if the urge comes across.

    a cocktail shaker glass filled with ingredients for a sidecar cocktail

    Liz Voltz

Special Equipment

Cocktail shaker, strainer

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
221 Calories
0g Fat
9g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 221
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 9mg 44%
Calcium 1mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 25mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)