The sidecar serves as the foundation for many of the most popular cocktails of the last century: the Margarita, the Daiquiri, the Cosmopolitan, and the Kamikaze, to name a few. The cocktail originated in Paris shortly after the first World War.
- Triple sec
- Lemon Juice
(For the measurements, see "Variations" below)
- Sugar rim
- Lemon twist
- (optional) Apply sugar rim to cocktail glass
- Combine ingredients over ice
- Shake and strain into glass
- Add lemon twist
- Office IBA calls for 5 cl Cognac, 2cl Triple Sec, 2 cl Fresh Lemon juice; pour all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into cocktail glass -- they did not specify rimming glass with sugar.
- The "French School", a simple combination involves 1 oz cognac, 1 oz lemon juice, 1 oz Cointreau/triple sec.
- The "English school", as found in the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), call for 2 parts cognac, 1 part each of Cointreau, and 1 part lemon juice
- David Embury, who wrote in his "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks", claims to know the drink's inventor, suggests an 8:2:1 ratio
- Robert Hess suggests a ratio of 4:2:1, and insists on Cognac and Cointreau
- In practice, most customers apparently expect a brandy-based Margarita
- Steve Jaffe offers a K.I.S.S. approach by simply exchanging the brandy and sugar rim for the tequila and salt rim in your favorite Margarita recipe to maintain a parallel flavor profile when introducing your Margarita drinkers to the Sidecar (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- The Daiquiri
- The Margarita
- The Cosmopolitan
The Sidecar was originally invented at a bar in Paris for one of the patrons who was fond of arriving driven in a motorcycle sidecar. David A. Embury (The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, 1948) credits the invention to an American Army captain during World War I "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." According to Embury, the original Sidecar had several more ingredients, which were refined away. A Sidecar according to Embury, a connoisseur of cocktails rather than a bartender, is simply a Daquiri with brandy as its base rather than rum, and with Cointreau as the sweetening agent rather than sugar syrup. He recommends the same proportions (8:2:1) for both, making a much less sweet Sidecar.
It is said that a proper Sidecar should be made with Cognac (at least a VSOP - Very Superior Old Pale) rather than just ordinary brandy. Cognac is technically brandy but it is easier to find a quality Cognac than a quality unflavored brandy. Also, since the Sidecar is a French creation, it is appropriate to use a distinctly French liquor.
First Listed Recipes for the Side-Car
The first recipes for the Side-car appear in 1922, in Harry MacElhone's Harry's ABC of Cocktails and Robert Vermiere's Cocktails: How to Mix Them.
Fill the shaker half full of broken ice and add:
1/6 gill of fresh Lemon Juice. 1/6 gill of Cointreau. 1/6 gill of Cognac Brandy.
Shake well and strain into a cocktail-glass.
This cocktail is very popular in France. It was first introduced in London by MacGarry, the celebrated bar-tender of Buck's Club
After giving his formula, MacElhone writes, "Recipe by MacGarry, the Popular bar-tender at Buck's Club, London." Vermiere provides a little more detail: "This cocktail is very popular in France. It was first introduced in London by MacGarry, the celebrated bar-tender of Buck's Club." MacGarry--I haven't been able to dig up his first name--was still tending bar at Buck's in 1940, so he must've been doing something right. Whether he invented the recipe or found it (Fernando Castellon, based upon what evidence I do not know, states in his recent Larousse des cocktails that he encountered it at a villa in the South of France), MacGarry's formula (as reported by both MacElhone and Vermiere) called for equal parts cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice, and made no mention of the sugar-frosted rim.
Later, an "English School" of Sidecars emerged, as found in the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930): one-half cognac, one-quarter each lemon juice and Cointreau. I prefer this one, myself.
David Embury Quote on the Side-Car
"The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks" (1948) by David Embury
"This cocktail is the most perfect example I know of a magnificent drink gone wrong. It was invented by a friend of mine at a bar in Paris during World War I and was named after the motorcycle sidecar in which the good captain customarily was driven to and from the little bistro where the drink was born and christened. As originally concocted it contained some six or seven ingredients in place of the three now set forth in practically all recipe books."
The Side-Car was developed from...
As for the drink's Prehistory: Certainly the Brandy Crusta is in there. Also in there, though, is the Brandy Daisy. While this began its life as a Brandy Fizz--brandy, juice of half a lemon, dashes of gum syrup--with orange cordial in place of some of the sugar, by the 1880s it was served in a cocktail glass rather than a fizz glass, and had only a little fizz water in it. By 1900, one even finds an English recipe omitting the fizz water altogether (although, truth be told, it also omits the orange cordial, substituting Yellow Chartreuse). Somewhere out of all this, the Sidecar emerged. Its proportions of lemon juice and orange cordial are much more like those of the Daisy, while it loses the bubbles and swipes the Crusta's sugar rim.
The Sugar rim on the Side-Car
The earliest mention for the sugar rim on the Sidecar glass is 1934, in three different books:
Burke's Complete Cocktail & Drinking Recipes,
Gordon's Cocktail & Food Recipes,
Drinks As They Are Mixed (a reprint of Paul E. Lowe's 1904 book, with a couple of pages of "Popular Specials" spliced it).
Birth of the Sidecar By Stan Grayson
Out in front of the Ritz Bar, where the opulent Hispano-Suizas and Rolls-Royces lined the Rue Cambon, there appeared one day a young American and a tiny two seat French automobile. “You call that thing a car” asked the Ritz’s famous bartender, Frank. “That’s a child’s toy; that’s more like the size of a sidecar than a regular car.” The scene was repeated frequently. “You here again, Mr. Side Car? What will it be this time?” Eventually the young man, a twenty-one-year-old Floridian-in-Paris named Horace Chase – nephew of Palm Beach architect Addison Mizner – decided to have Frank mix a special drink. “What will it be?” he answered the loquacious bartender’s inevitable question. “Well in Florida, I used to mix Bacardi and lemon juice and a little Cointreau. Let’s try that but use brandy instead.” Horace pronounced his brainchild a tasty concoction indeed and those at the bar who eagerly sampled it agreed. Frank, as the drink’s craftsman, was pleased too and he christened the new cocktail at once. He called it a Side Car, thinking of Horace’s distinctive little vehicle in the street out front. That machine was an Amilcar.