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How to Make a Sidecar

Learn how to make a sidecar in this Howcast video about how to make cocktails. Recipe: 2 oz cognac; 1 oz Cointreau; ¾ oz lemon juice. Shake and strain into a ½ sugar-rimmed glass. Garnish with orange twist.


The Sidecar is a classic cocktail that a lot of people have heard of, but few people actually know how to make, or have even tasted when made properly. The cocktail was invented in the 1920's in France. You'll notice that a lot of classic cocktails start to be invented in Europe in the 1920's.

That's because of a little thing called prohibition, which was started in 1919 in the United States, so all of the American bartenders, the ones basically who didn't go and work in underground speakeasy's or went to find another profession, they would go over to Europe and started creating drinks over there.

So the Sidecar is made with cognac, which is a French brandy made in the Cognac region of France and Cointreau which is french orange liqueur. It's a sour style cocktail and I love this drink, because I think it's still a really dignified, elegant drink, but it isn't as stiff as a Manhattan or Martini, so if you're looking for an alternative to that. But anyway, let's make a Sidecar.

We're going to start with 2 oz. of cognac. So like I said it's a French brandy. Brandy is just distilled fruit, in this case distilled wine and we know France is known for it's great wines. We're going to do a whole ounce of Cointreau. Cointreau is a orange liqueur and it's really high quality. There are other liqueur, orange liqueurs out there, they're triple secs and stuff.

Some of them will work okay in a Sidecar, but I really swear by Cointreau. I just think it's the highest quality out there. One whole ounce and this is sweet, so this is going to be your sweetener. There's no simple syrup in this drink, even though it's a sour style drink. I have to a juice a little more lemon. I've got that strainer setup there, that fine strainer.

This is one of the drinks that I really like to have the pulps strained out. I think that nice texture justifies that extra step of straining out the lemon juice, but to each his own. So now we're going to do three-quarters of an ounce of lemon juice. I mentioned that Cointreau is your sweetener and there no simple. This is a tart drink, and so if you want it to be a little sweeter it's okay to add just a little simple syrup, just a dash. But I like it made this way and is the classic recipe, by the way.

All right, so we're going to shake this drink, because it's got lemon juice in it, which is a non-alcoholic ingredient. We do really need to force those ingredients together, so now we're ready to shake. First though, I'm going to prep our glass. Like I said it's a tart drink, so if you haven't added some simple syrup and are doing it the classic way, we're going to rim the glass with sugar and I'm going to show you how to do that.

So we have our glass chilling in the freezer, always a great idea for any cocktail. They'll keep it cold. We're going to set that and now we're going to shake. I'm going to be alone with my shaker for a moment, excuse me. It's hard to look cool shaking, but it is the closest you'll ever get to see me dance, which I look less cool doing. Okay, so I'm not even going to give this a second.

This was chilling in the freezer. After we take it out, we let it sit for a minute. As the glass warms up, the condensation will start to form on the rim, and you don't need to use any citrus or anything. You'll notice that it'll just stick right on there. See that? You don't have the mess from putting maybe a lemon on there to get it to stick or sometimes people use simple syrup which works, but this is a lot cleaner, a lot easier and it's a lot more even.

So this will take the edge off of that tartness from the Cointreau. And just like I strained the lemon juice, I'm also going to fine strain all the little ice bits, because I think that this is again, just such a delicate drink. Every little step you can take to make it even more delicate, I say do it.

Finally, we'll add our garnish, which is a twist of orange. We're just going to express the oils on to the drink, to get those really nice, ripe aromatics from the orange peel. Hold the white part to you, the pith, and hold it kind of sideways like this and gently just squeeze out those oils over the top. Give it a nice little twist and there you have it. That is how you make the famous Sidecar.

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