Sidecar Cocktail Variations

Welcome to the Ugly Duckling Bakery speakeasy, grab a Sidecar Cocktail, and let’s take a trip to a different era. The sidecar’s balanced blend of brandy, orange liqueur, and fresh lemon juice has captivated palates for over a century.

But it doesn’t stop there. The sidecar’s versatility invites home mixologists to experiment with exciting variations. Swap out brandy for bourbon, rum, or tequila to discover new dimensions of taste, or indulge in tropical twists like the pineapple-infused sidecar.

a sidecar cocktail in a coupe with a sugared rim and sidecar with orange garnish.
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The backstory

One night many moons ago, a few girlfriends and I decided to go on a pub crawl. I don’t recall the inspiration for the evening, but I do remember that I went on a mission to find the perfect cocktail.

You see, like many others, my experience with alcoholic beverages started with wine coolers, transitioned to beer in college, and then moved to wine. The challenge, particularly as a then-single person, was what to order in a bar, where glasses of wine are not reliably delicious.

Up until that night, I had enjoyed an occasional Screwdriver, White Russian, or rum and diet coke. But I had no go-to that said “adult.” My mission was to find my signature drink.

The perfect cocktail had to be served in a martini glass. Martini glasses are sophisticated, right? It had to be a bit sweet but not a cosmo. Sex in the City was so over. Most importantly, it had to be a drink that was unusual but common enough that any bartender could make it.

I don’t remember the names of all of the drinks I had that night. I think there might have been a sour among them. What stuck was the sidecar.

Over the next few years, I made bartenders happy by asking them to make me a drink they hadn’t made since bartender school. I now favor a dry gin martini as my go-to drink, but it’s good to have options. It’s always 5pm somewhere.

a cocktail with a sugared rim.

What is a sidecar

The sidecar cocktail was originally a sweet drink made with Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice. If you love brandy, check out this Brandy Manhattan as well!

Sidecar variations

Some folks have tried to modernize the sidecar by reducing the sweetness and bringing it to a traditional sour formula. If you’d like to try that, skip the sugared rim, increase the brandy to two ounces, decrease the Cointreau to three-quarters of an ounce, and garnish with orange peel (see main photo) or a dehydrated orange slice.

The Corpse Reviver #2 is another variation of the sidecar made with equal amounts of gin, Cointreau, Lillet blanc, and lemon juice with a rinse or dash of absinthe.

a pale yellow cocktail in a coupe lit from the side.

My Cherry Bakewell cocktail is patterned on the sidecar. Brandy, amaretto, cherry liqueur, and lemon juice pay homage to the classic dessert.

Check out other cocktails from the Ugly Duckling Bakery archives, including:

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.


Sidecar Cocktail

5 from 1 vote
Category: Drinks
Cuisine: Unspecified
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 235kcal
This sidecar variation is a sweet yet sophisticated classic cocktail that is made with brandy, Cointreau, and lemon juice.
Print Recipe


  • Cocktail shaker


  • ounce brandy
  • ounce cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • superfine sugar, as needed


  • Rub the edge of a cut lemon on the rim of a martini glass.
  • Put a small amount of sugar onto a clean paper towel and carefully roll the rim in the sugar to coat.
    superfine sugar, as needed
  • Combine the brandy, Cointreau, lemon juice, and half cup of ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake for 20 seconds, then strain into the martini glass.
    1½ ounce brandy, 1½ ounce cointreau or other orange liqueur, 1 ounce lemon juice


For a less sweet Sidecar variation, skip the sugared rim, increase the brandy to two ounces, decrease the Cointreau to three-quarters of an ounce, and garnish with orange peel (see main photo) or a dehydrated orange slice.


Calories: 235kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.1mg
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This Sidecar cocktail recipe was first shared January 23, 2021. The post was last updated June 14, 2023.

Love cocktails and want to explore more? Read all about classic cocktails and bartender basics or join this year’s 52 weeks of cocktails challenge!

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