“Claret is the liquor for boys; port, for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy”
-Samuel Johnson, English Poet/Critic and Writer, 1709-1784

The Sidecar

2 parts   Courvoisier Exclusif
1 part     Fresh lemon juice
1 part     Triple sec
Dash       Sugar syrup
1               Lemon snap

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker until cool and well mixed.  Fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Lemon snap.

Side Car - New Garnish


… “and named after the motorcycle sidecar in which the good captain was driven to and from the little bistro where the drink was born and christened”, as it was written in 1948 by David A. Embury in his acclaimed cocktail book, ‘The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks’.

The story continues to explain an eccentric British captain in Paris during WWI who frequented his favourite bar in his army issue vehicle.   A story well enjoyed by bartenders and customers alike, however this defining cognac cocktail has a heritage which predates this definition by almost a century.  But to begin with – the name…

The first recorded listing for the cocktail formally known as a Side-car, can be found in two cocktail reads from the early 1920s (‘Harry’s ABC of Cocktails’ by Harry MacElhone and Robert Vermiers, ‘Cocktails: How to Mix Them’) where both authors credit the drink to, “MacGarry, the Popular bar-tender at Buck’s Club, London” – a private bar still located on Clifford Street in central London. The drinks foundation around this time is further supported by a publication in the Coshocton Tribune in 1923 which states;

“Another new cocktail, second only in popularity to the monkey gland, has been named a “side-car,” because it takes the imbiber for a ride. Two-thirds brandy, one-sixth Cointreau and one-sixth lemon juice make up this concoction”.

These days in America it is popular to sugar the rim of a Sidecar cocktail which aside from adding to the theatre is always a popular choice with customers.  Ironically, once you have done so this very drink (give or take a few altered measures) becomes an entirely different cocktail, one recorded in the first ever printed cocktail guide in 1862 under the name of Brandy Crusta, a recipe favourite of the great cocktail master – Jerry “The Professor” Thomas.

If you dig deep enough, you are able to follow a rudimentary family tree of classic cocktails which show an evolution to today’s most popular cocktails from their simple and humble beginnings over a century before.  Often the only variances involve a new vessel, substituted base spirit or replaced sweetener and therefore allowing each new adaptation, a name reinvented.  Here is a brief evolution from this, my favourite of all Cognac cocktails, the Sidecar;

The Evolution of classic cocktails

Brandy Crusta – 1862

  • Brandy, orange liqueur, lemon Juice, sugar rim
  • Served in a goblet/wine glass

Brandy Daisy – 1876

  • Brandy, orange liqueur, lemon juice, sugar syrup, 2 dashes of rum
  • Served in a highball glass over ice

Brandy Fizz – 1880s

  • Brandy, sugar syrup, lemon juice, orange cordial, dash of soda
  • Served in a cocktail glass

Sidecar – 1922

  • Cognac, orange liqueur, lemon juice
  • Served in a cocktail glass

English Stool – 1930

  • Cognac, orange liqueur, lemon juice
  • Served in a cocktail glass

Margarita – 1936 (ish)

  • Tequila, orange liqueur, lemon juice
  • Served in a martini glass (later with a salt rim….coincidence?)

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Sidecar Cocktail: Taking the imbiber for a ride…

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