One by one I’ve been working my way through the classics (and I don’t mean “A Catcher in the Rye”- although a Sazerac with Rye will do nicely).  Some, like the Baronial were pleasant enough, but not warranting further exploration.  Others though, like The Sidecar which I had never tried before, assert themselves immediately and quickly work their way into my short list of go-to drinks that are the liquid that drips from the alcohol-soaked fabric of my life- or my shirt, if it’s been an especially lively evening.

The Sidecar, although mentioned in many cocktail books I’d read over the years, only really came into my awareness about 2 years ago.  I was relaying the tradition of cocktail parties in my neighborhood to a client who said, “I can just see you all out on the patio, sipping sidecars.”  Since she is a woman of remarkable taste and style, I filed the sidecar away as something I planned to serve in the future.  The recipe passed in front of me the other week when I was trying to decide what to serve to some thirsty guests I was expecting that evening, so I gave it a closer look.  Rather than a mega-rich rapper with a diamond-studded grille, I am a modest suburban dad with invisaligns, so I’m sure you can forgive my unfamiliarity with the world of Cognac.  That and the call for sugar-rimmed glasses really gave me pause.  But I am not afraid of making adjustments to a recipe to ease the workload of a party, so I thought I’d sugar some lemon twists instead of rimming glasses, as well as make a vat of Sidecars to chill in my metal martini pitcher in the freezer.  My day ended up busier than I thought, so I also didn’t have time to squeeze fresh lemons.  You can see where this is going.  The drink just didn’t have the level of refinement I was hoping for.  And I left the pitcher in the freezer too long, which made the citrus go cloudy.  That meant I had to sneak around with a spoon, stirring drinks when guests weren’t looking.  So much for making my life easier.  Although not a success, the drink had a nice flavor that had me wanting to try the real thing, made properly.

I should have done this before serving it a party, but I took some time to look at different recipes and try to decipher which one was the classic, with the correct proportions of each ingredient.  I got fresh lemons, a plate of sugar to rim the glass (I still will never do that for a party of more than 4) and set forth with my shaker to experience a sidecar the way it should be.  What a difference!  The base flavor is that of the deep, oak-y cognac which is a perfect compliment to the tart, refreshing lemon.  Cointreau is the sweet, easy flavor that brings the other two together.  The whole thing is perfect with the added sweetness of the sugar on the rim of the glass.  I can see this being a great drink for the summertime party on the patio that my client spoke of, but I know it’s going to be something I turn to all year round.

Following, is the recipe I feel is the best, but for people who like less alcohol, you can increase the amounts of lemon juice and Cointreau relative to the Cognac.  Learn from my mistakes and enjoy!



2 oz VSOP Cognac, 1/2 oz Cointreau, 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice.  Shake all three in ice-filled shaker, strain into sugar-rimmed cocktail glass.