Sidecar | Cotswold Cocktail School
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Cotswold Cocktail School - Sidecar Cocktail Recipe

ABV 28.5% / 3 alcoholic units

Primary spirit: Cognac

A Brief History of the Sidecar

While the exact origins of the Sidecar remain shrouded in mystery, it is believed to have emerged in the early 20th century, with its roots often traced back to the glamorous bars of Paris or London. The cocktail gained popularity during the Prohibition era and quickly became a favorite among the fashionable elite. Its enduring appeal has cemented its status as a classic cocktail cherished by cocktail aficionados worldwide.

Taste and Flavour Profile

The Sidecar boasts a well-balanced and dynamic taste profile that is both vibrant and comforting:

  • Citrus Zest: The Sidecar's prominent citrus notes come from the fresh lemon juice. It delivers a bright and zesty kick, setting the stage for an invigorating experience.
  • Sweetness: Cointreau or triple sec, a sweet orange liqueur, adds a delicate touch of sweetness, which harmonises with the tartness of the lemon juice.
  • Warmth: Cognac, the backbone of the cocktail, contributes a warm, smooth richness. It provides depth and complexity, making the Sidecar a multi-layered sensory journey.
  • Rimmed Glass: Some variations of the Sidecar call for rimming the glass with sugar, adding an extra layer of sweetness and texture to the experience.

Food Pairings

The Sidecar's lively and versatile flavours make it an excellent companion to a range of dishes:

  • Seafood: Oysters, shrimp cocktail, and ceviche complement the Sidecar's citrusy brightness.
  • Poultry: Light and flavourful chicken or turkey dishes are harmonious partners.
  • Savoury Appetisers: Think of savoury pastries, canapés, or charcuterie boards with pâté.
  • Desserts: Creamy desserts, such as crème brûlée or lemon tarts, mirror the cocktail's citrus and sweet interplay.

Bar Equipment

  • Cocktail shaker
  • Jigger
  • Hawthorne strainer
  • Cocktail sieve
  • Coupe glass


  • 45ml Cognac
  • 30ml Cointreau  
  • 15ml Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Sugar for rimming (optional)
  • Orange twist  for garnish
  • Ice cubes


  • To add a sugared rim, rub an orange wedge around the rim of the glass
  • Put a tablespoon of sugar onto a plate and gently twist glass (rim side down) onto the plate
  • Add the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until cooled
  • Double strain into a prepared coupe glass and garnish with the orange twist

What's the best Cognac for a Sidecar?

The choice of cognac for a Sidecar cocktail is crucial, as it's one of the primary ingredients and greatly influences the cocktail's flavour profile. To create a well-balanced and delightful Sidecar, it's recommended to use a quality cognac with the following characteristics:

  • VSOP or better: Look for a cognac labeled as VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) or higher, such as XO (Extra Old). These designations indicate that the cognac has been aged for a longer period, resulting in a smoother and more complex spirit. The additional aging contributes depth and richness to your Sidecar.
  • Fruity and Smooth: Choose a cognac with fruity and smooth characteristics. These flavors complement the citrusy brightness of the lemon juice and the sweetness of the orange liqueur. You'll want the cognac to harmonise with these elements, not overpower them.
  • Well-Known Brands: Renowned cognac brands like Hennessy, Rémy Martin, Courvoisier, or Hine often produce cognacs that are suitable for a Sidecar. These brands have a reputation for quality and consistency.
  • Personal Preference: Ultimately, the best cognac for your Sidecar may depend on your personal taste and budget. If you enjoy a particular cognac or have a favorite brand, it's worth experimenting to see how it complements the other ingredients in your cocktail.

Remember that the balance between the cognac, Cointreau or triple sec, and fresh lemon juice is key to a perfect Sidecar. The cognac should be a flavourful and harmonious component, enhancing the cocktail's overall taste. Enjoy your Sidecar with your chosen cognac, and savor the elegance and sophistication of this classic cocktail.

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