The Mysterious History Of The Sidecar Cocktail

Hop in for a boozy history lesson….

The Sidecar, arguably one of of the chicest classic cocktails of all time,  comes with an origin story muddled in mystery.

The drink is traditionally made with cognac, orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier, dry curaçao or a triple sec) and lemon juice. In its ingredients, the drink is most closely related to the older Brandy Crusta, which was invented by legendary bartender Joseph Santini at his New Orleans bar, Jewel of the South, sometime in the mid-1800s. A blend of brandy, maraschino liqueur, curaçao, fresh lemon juice, and bitters, the Brandy Crusta boasts a generously sugared rim, which is why often the Sidecar is garnished the way.

Like the Daiquiri, the Sidecar evolved from the original Sour formula, but Sidecars are often drier than Sours, combining liqueurs like curaçao with citrus.

The exact origin of the Sidecar is unclear, but it is thought to have been invented around the end of World War I in either London or Paris. 

The Ritz Hotel in Paris claims origin of the drink. The first recipes for the sidecar appear in 1922, in Harry MacElhone‘s “Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails” and Robert Vermeire‘s “Cocktails and How to Mix Them.” It is also of six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury‘s “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks,” published in 1948.

In early editions of MacElhone’s book, he cites the inventor as Pat MacGarry, “the popular bartender at Buck’s Club, London“, but in later editions he cites himself. While Vermiere states that the drink was “very popular in France. It was first introduced in London by MacGarry, the celebrated bartender of Buck’s Club.” Embury credits the invention of the drink to an American army captain in Paris during World War I and named after the motorcycle sidecar that the captain used.

Whatever the real story, we are happy to drink up. In honor of National Sidecar Day on July 30, try mixing up one of these five variations.

Mercer + Prince Sidecar

Mercer + Prince Sidecar

Mercer + Prince is a blended whisky founded by rapper and fashion icon, A$AP Rocky, inspired by his global sophisticated taste and cutting-edge style. Try mixing up the classic Sidecar recipe with this modern liquor.

  • 2 oz. MERCER + PRINCE
  • 1 oz. Premium Orange Liqueur
  • 0.05 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Sugar Rimmed Glass

Method: Coat the rim of a coupe glass with sugar and set aside. Add ingredients to shake with ice and combine until well-chilled. Strain into prepared glass and garnish with lemon peel.

Rémy Martin Spritz Sidecar

Rémy Martin Sidecar Spritz

A refreshing twist on the original, the Spritz Sidecar is made with Rémy Martin—which was founded way back in 1724—and adds champagne, simple syrup and tonic water to the traditional recipe.

  • 1 oz Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau
  • 0.5 oz Lemon Juice
  • 0.5 oz Simple Syrup
  • 2 oz Tonic Water
  • 1 oz Champagne

Method: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shake expect champagne and tonic water. Shake until well chilled. Strain over ice into a highball glass and top with champagne and tonic water. Garnish with orange peel or slice.

D’USSÉ Frozen Pêche Sidecar

The classic sidecar remixed for summer, the Frozen Pêche Sidecar features D’USSÉ—the cognac was founded by JAY-Z—and the sweetness of peaches.

  • 2 Parts D’USSÉ VSOP Cognac
  • 1 Part Crème de Pêche or Peach Schnapps
  • 1 Part Peach Purée
  • 1 Part Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Part Simple Syrup
  • 1 cup Ice

Method: Add all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth and frothy. Pour into a sugar-rimmed coupe glass.

Kinako Sidecar

Kinako Sidecar

On the menu at San Francisco’s the Pacific Cocktail Haven, the Kinako Sidecar—created by rockstar bartender Kevin Diedrich—highlights the harmony of Kinako with Kalani Coconut Liqueur and its base of BERTOUX Brandy. BERTOUX’s spicy rich flavors round out this tropical, nutty Sidecar variation.

  • 2 oz BERTOUX Brandy
  • 0.75 oz Lemon Juice
  • 0.25 oz Kalani Coconut Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Licor 43 Liqueur
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Method: Rim a chilled Nick & Nora glass with Kinako Mix*. Shake with ice and double-strain into rimmed glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

*Kinako Mix
  • 2 parts White Baker’s Sugar
  • 1 part Kinako (Roasted Sesame Powder) 

CÎROC Sidecar

From founder Sean “Diddy” Combs, CÎROC‘s Sidecar recipe keeps it simple, using just the brand’s VS French Brandy, Triple Sec and lemon.

  • 1.5 oz CÎROC VS French Brandy
  • 0.5 oz Lemon
  • 1 oz Triple Sec

Method: Add CÎROC VS, lemon and triple sec in a shaker. Add ice and shake well until all is chilled. Double strain into a coupe glass rimmed with sugar.