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.

The sidecar’s versatility means that you can swap out brandy for bourbon, rum, or tequila or indulge in tropical twists like the pineapple-infused sidecar. Just read on for a bit of a cocktail story, or hit that Jump to Recipe button, and let’s make a sidecar variation!

pale orange cocktail in a coupe garnished with orange twist, on two coasters and a jigger.
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The backstory

One night many moons ago, a few girlfriends and I decided to go on a mission to find the perfect cocktail. Up until that night, I had enjoyed an occasional Screwdriver, White Russian, or rum and diet coke. But I had no go-to cocktail that said “adult.”


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. Most importantly, it had to be a drink that was unusual but common enough that any bartender could make it.

Over the next few years, I made bartenders happy by asking them to make me a sidecar, 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.

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!

Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.

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 of absinthe.

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

My Cherry Bakewell cocktail is a sidecar variation I created. Brandy, amaretto, cherry liqueur, and lemon juice pay homage to the classic dessert.

red brown cocktail in an almond-sugar rimmed coupe with a maraschino cherry garnish.

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

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!

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.
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  • 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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You’re an adventurous home cook looking for inspiration in your weeknight meals and weekend baking. Get that inspiration here:

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