Sidecar Cocktails are both delicious and deceptively easy to prepare, calling for only three ingredients. There are a few tricks to preparing them properly, which come from my good friends Deborah Shaw and Joan Perlow – and I’m sharing them with you now!

(Photo by Laurie Smith)

What is a Sidecar Drink?

A Sidecar is a classic cocktail that dates back to the 1920s, when it was served in the best establishments in both Paris and London. Sidecars are both delicious and deceptively easy to prepare. The keys are (1), using good quality ingredients (no cheap brandy!), and (2) balancing the sweetness (from the brandy and Cointreau) with the sour (from the sour mix).

Why is the drink called a Sidecar?

There are many theories as to why this drink is called a Sidecar. The most frequently cited story is that the Sidecar cocktail was invented shortly after World War 1, in either Paris or London, and was named by an American soldier. The story goes that he used to ride to the bar in the sidecar of a friend’s motorcycle.

Sidecar Ingredients

Joan and Deborah, best buddies since medical school, are Sidecar aficionados and quite particular about how they’re made – and in particular, what ingredients are used. I’ve been with these gals many a time where they rattle off the exact recipe to the bartender – to ensure it’s prepared “properly.”

Tiring of hearing Joan recite the recipe seemingly every time they went out to dinner, her clever husband David had business cards printed with the exact recipe! Joan and Deborah both carry their cocktail cards in their purses at all times, to ensure they get the Perfect Sidecar.

In case you can’t read the card, this Sidecar cocktail has just three ingredients:

  • sour mix,
  • brandy, and
  • Cointreau.

While a traditional Sidecar calls for lemon juice, our recipe utilizes sour mix. Deborah, Joan and I all think the sour mix is a better complement to the sweetness of the liquors.

How to make a Sidecar

Making a Sidecar is actually quite easy; here are the steps:

  1. Sugar the rim of a cocktail glass. (See detailed directions just below.)
  2. Fill a martini shaker with ice. Add sour mix, brandy and Cointreau. Shake well.
  3. Pour through a cocktail strainer into prepared martini glass.

How to sugar the rim of a cocktail glass

It’s actually quite easy to apply a flavored rim to a cocktail or martini glass. Here are the steps:

  1. Moisten rim.
    I like to run a cut lemon around the rim. You don’t need much; just enough to moisten the rim all the way around. Too much and it can start running down the sides of the glass.
  2. Dip rim in sugar.
    Place the sugar in a glass rimmer (or shallow plate/saucer/bowl), turn the glass upside down and place the moistened rim completely into the sugar. No need to twist or rub; just dunk in and out.

Tools needed to make this Sidecar Drink Recipe

You only need 4 tools to make this Sidecar:

  1. A glass rimmer (rimming dish), or a flat plate/saucer or bowl larger than the rim of our glass, to sugar the rim.
  2. A jigger or shot glass, to measure the ingredients.
  3. A cocktail shaker, to mix up and chill the ingredients.
  4. A cocktail strainer, to pour the shaken cocktail into the prepared glass.

Pin it now to save for later –

person holding a martini glass filled with a Perfect Sidecar Cocktail
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Perfect Sidecar Cocktail Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 1 review

A Sidecar Martini are both delicious and deceptively easy to prepare, calling for only three ingredients. There are a few tricks to preparing them properly, including using top quality brandy and cointreau, as well as correctly balancing the sweet and sour aspects.

  • Yield: 1 cocktail 1x


  • granulated sugar, for glass rim
  • 3 parts sour mix
  • 1 part brandy
  • 1 part Cointreau


  1. Place sugar on a small plate. Wet rim of a martini glass with water or lemon juice. Dip rim into sugar to coat. Set aside.
  2. Fill a martini shaker with ice. Add remaining ingredients. Shake well. Pour through a cocktail strainer into prepared martini glass.
  • Author: (From “A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®” by Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star


    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      I like “Simple Organic Truth Margarita Mix” as it contains all natural ingredients. I recommend that, when purchasing these mixes, make sure to read the ingredient list carefully. Often they are made with high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavorings – and sometimes don’t even have any real lemon or lime juice in them!



    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      Aren’t they beautiful? The glasses were a gift from a friend. When I tried to buy a few more, I found out they are no longer available. So, a collector’s item now I guess!


Share This With The World

About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I’ve provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.

Sign up for recipes, tips & more!
Join the club

Latest Posts