The Sidecar

Classic Sidecar cocktail by EmbittermentThe sidecar is one of the simplest and most fun cocktails to prepare once you’ve assembled the necessary ingredients.  It’s not one of our classic 3-ingredient cocktails, but once you’ve mastered the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan, it’s a logical next step.  What’s more, it employs brandy or Cognac, which are a step to the left of whiskey in a really interesting way. Of course, brandy and cognac are grape-based spirits, which means that there’s often a lightness and an inherent “vinous” (wine-like) quality to them that some woody, earthy bourbons and ryes can’t achieve.

The particularly nice thing about the sidecar cocktail is the fact that it can be enjoyed at virtually any time of year without batting an eyelash.  Brandy, as you may know, is a very winter-friendly spirit, enjoyed by itself in a barrel-chested snifter, which allows the liquor to be warmed by the hand as you slowly sip it.  The other ingredients of the sidecar, though, are decidedly not wintery.  There’s always some citrus element (usually lemon juice and a lemon peel garnish), some sweet element (sugar, simple syrup), and more citrus in the form of an orange liqueur like Cointreau or Triple Sec.  Oh yeah, and we wouldn’t be throwing this recipe up here if there wasn’t room for bitters (there’s always room for bitters).

The cool thing about the sidecar is that it’s an almost infinitely tweakable recipe.  Not sweet enough for you the first time?  Less lemon juice, and maybe more sugar.  Too sweet?  Ditch the sugar and let the orange liqueur do the work.  Speaking of which, if you don’t like Triple Sec (which is admittedly the most cost-effective option), why not graduate to Cointreau?  Or, go for broke like the Embitterment boys do and opt for Grand Marnier, an oak-aged orange liqueur from France.  You’ll be glad you did.

Basic Sidecar Recipe

Follow these basic measurements and guidelines for your sidecar, and you’re guaranteed to have an easy, elegant drink to impress company…or simply to impress yourself.


  • 1.5 oz brandy or cognac
  • .5 oz lemon juice
  • .5 – 1 oz Orange liqueur (depending on who’s pouring)
  • .5 teaspoons fine sugar (depending on how much liqueur you use)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 10-20 seconds.
  2. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with an orange wheel

NOTE: Some recipes state to mix the sugar or simple syrup right in with the liquid ingredients and shake or stir until integrated.  Some, however, state that you should coat the rim of your cocktail glass with the sugar, in the fashion of a salted Margarita glass.

Embitterment Sidecar Cocktail



  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir gently until the drink is chilled.  We’re not heathens here.  STIR.  GENTLY.   No need for ice chips and watered down drinks.
  3.   Strain into you cocktail glass of choice and garnish with a lovely orange wedge (see image above). Enjoy!

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