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Certain drinks just have great names, and the Sidecar is one of them.

Sidecar cocktail

This drink was developed during Work War I: but who made it first, and how is it made today?

Sidecar History

It’s not surprising to find the French and the British fighting over who is responsible for having invented something this delicious.

sidecar cocktail with lemon peel garnish

The French

According to one story, a captain in the US Army would frequently travel (via motorcycle side-car) to Harry’s New York bar in Paris.

He wanted a warming before-dinner drink, but since it was seen as gauche to drink straight cognac that early, the bartender added some lemon juice and Cointreau to lighten it up.

The British

According to the British version, this cocktail was made in London’s Buck’s Club by Pat MacGarry, the undisputed creator of Buck’s Fizz.

There are a lot of variations to this story, with some believing that MacGarry brought the drink from Paris to London and others reciting the traveling US Army captain visitor story, only applied to the Buck’s Club.

How to Make It

Sidecar cocktail


Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Wherever it came from, this cocktail is popular and delicious. 


  • 2 oz cognac
  • 1 oz triple sec on Cointreau
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • Lemon or orange twist garnish


    Making it is simple: just shake in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Did you make this recipe?

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There are also several well-establish variations you can draw from.

The Calvados

This variation is quite popular.

sugar rimmed calvados cocktail with apple and cinnamon

To make it, you’ll need:

  • 1 oz Calvados
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Sugar for rimming the glass
  • Freshly ground cinnamon
  • Wedge of lime

Mix equal amounts of sugar and cinnamon. Rub the rim with your lime wedge, then dip it in the cinnamon-sugar mix and freeze it. Shake everything else in a cocktail shaker and shake until it’s well-chilled. Strain into your prepared glass.

The Crown

Another popular variation, this one uses:

  • 1 oz Crown Royal Special Reserve whiskey
  • .25 oz triple sec
  • 2 oz sweet and sour mix
  • Wedge of lime
  • Sugar for rimming the glaass

Run the lime along the edge of the glass, and then dip the glass in your sugar. Freeze it. Thoroughly shake and chill the other ingredients and strain into your prepared glass.

Side by Side

This is a fruity variation that has a whole other depth of flavor to it.

To make this one, you’ll need:

  • Sugar for rimming the glass
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • .75 oz cognac
  • .75 oz pomegranate liqueur
  • .5 oz lemon juice

As with the other variations, make this by rimming and freezing your glass, then straining the shaken ingredients into it.

Cherry Sidecar

Our final variation has a dark, deep flavor that’s perfect for certain moments. To make this, get:

  • 1.25 oz cognac
  • 1 oz cherry liqueur
  • .75 oz lemon juice
  • 2 dashes of cherry bitters
  • Brandied cherry garnish

This glass doesn’t need a rim of sugar but do shake the ingredients well so they’re chilled and strain them into a chilled coupe.

However you prefer it, this is a drink for those riding on the side: not those in the driver’s saddle! Drink responsibly and enjoy.


What is the difference between a whiskey sour and a sidecar?

The whiskey sour and the sidecar are both made with lemon juice, but the sidecar is made with cognac, not whiskey. They also differ in that the sidecar is sweetened with Cointreau instead of simple syrup.

Is Cointreau the same thing as Triple Sec?

Cointreau and Triple Sec are both orange liqueurs, but Cointreau is considered a higher-end option, and it brings more complex and smooth flavors to cocktails.

What is a Hennessy sidecar made of?

A Hennessy sidecar is the same as a classic sidecar recipe but made specifically with Hennessy cognac. The other ingredients, orange liqueur and lemon juice, are the same.

What kind of cognac for a sidecar?

You can use any cognac of choice for a sidecar. Some popular brands include Remy Martin VSOP, Courvoisier VSOP, or Hennessy.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

Written by Paul Kushner

I have always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. My restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time I turned 17 I was serving tables, and by 19 I was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, I opened my first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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