Sidecar Cocktail and Sidecar Variations

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.

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

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 was originally a sweet drink made with Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice.

Variations and substitutions

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.

Related recipes

Check out other cocktails from the Ugly Duckling Bakery archives, including the Cherry Bakewell cocktail patterned on the sidecar or this creamy espresso martini with Baileys. If you love brandy, don’t miss this perfect brandy Manhattan.


5 from 1 vote
Category: Drinks
Cuisine: Unspecified
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 235kcal
The sidecar 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


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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What’s next

If you make this Sidecar cocktail, please leave a comment and rating here.

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