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French Sidecar Cocktail

With the summer Olympics in Paris this year, the French Sidecar Cocktail is having a heyday. Though it’s been around for over 100 years, this delicious cognac-based drink has never gone out of style and is still served at the most fashionable watering holes.

Two cocktails with sugared rims with bottles of liqueur and a lemon on cutting board in background.

Sidecar Cocktail

The Sidecar cocktail is believed to have been created at Harry’s in Paris (at the time, just across the street from Harry’s New York Bar) and was first published in Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails by Harry MacElhone in 1919. According to Amanda Shuster’s book Signature Cocktails, this three-ingredient French recipe is the most famous cognac cocktail in the world.

We love this drink in summer, served ice cold. Though the main ingredient is cognac, it’s a citrus-led cocktail similar to a brandy sour, with orange liqueur and fresh lemon juice. It couldn’t be easier to make, and your guests will love this perfect match of flavors.

Sidecar Ingredients

There are many choices for cognacs, but for the classic Sidecar cocktail, we recommend H by HINE VSOP Cognac. Fresh and vibrant, it’s the perfect cognac for pairing with citrus ingredients.

Ingredients for sidecar cocktail on white counter with a white dishtowel.
  • 1 ½ oz. H by HINE VSOP Cognac
  • ¾ oz. orange liqueur
  • ¾ oz. lemon juice

How to Make the French Sidecar Cocktail

Run a lemon wedge around the rim of a coupe glass and dip it in a fairly deep bowl of sugar to coat the rim. Set aside.

Two glasses rimmed with sugar on cutting board with lemon with bottles and shaker in background.

Add the cognac to a cocktail shaker.

Cognac in cocktail shaker with cup of lemon juice and bottle to the side.

Add the Cointreau to the shaker.

Glass shaker with brown liquid and bottle of Cointreau and cognac with lemon juice in glass cup.

Add the lemon juice.

Fill the shaker with ice cubes and shake well until you can tell the mixture is ice cold.

Strain the drink into the sugar-rimmed glasses and serve.

Two cocktails with sugared rims with bottles of liqueur and a lemon on cutting board in background.

Tips and Variations

Serve this drink ice cold. Shake the cocktail with the ice until it’s cold, but not too long, as it will become watered down.

Double the ingredients to make two, as we’ve done. This is a lovely drink to share with friends. You could also make a small pitcher if you’re having a party to watch the Paris Olympics. Though the drink takes about 15-20 seconds to make, hosts often have so many other things to do, so it does make it easier.

Feel free to switch out the Cointreau for Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur.

Though the original recipe did not have a sugared rim, we love the added sweetness. If you don’t want to add the sugar, you might want to substitute simple syrup to cut the sourness of the lemon juice. You could also add a garnish of lemon or orange peel or even a cherry.

Serving the Sidecar Cocktail

Though we’ve given you complete instructions for how to make this delicious drink, the one thing we didn’t mention is that Shuster also shared in her book that the Sidecar was reportedly given the name because it was strong enough to take you for a ride. Yes, this is a strong drink!

Whenever we serve cocktails of any kind, we make sure there is plenty of food, too. We offer a variety of appetizers like our fluffy Focaccia Bread, Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms, Maryland Crab dip, and a Brie Charcuterie Board.

Two cocktails with sugared rims with bottles of liqueur and a lemon on cutting board in background.

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Two cocktails with sugared rims with bottles of liqueur and a lemon on cutting board in background.

Sidecar Cocktail Recipe

With the Olympics in Paris this year, the French Sidecar Cocktail is having a heyday. Though it’s been around for over 100 years, this delicious cognac-based drink has never gone out of style.
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Course: cocktails
Cuisine: French
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 168kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ oz. H by HINE VSOP Cognac
  • ¾ oz. orange liqueur
  • ¾ oz. lemon juice

Instructions

  • Run a lemon wedge around the rim of a coupe glass and dip it in a fairly deep bowl of sugar to coat the rim. Set aside.
  • Add the cognac to a cocktail shaker.
  • Add the Cointreau to the shaker.
  • Add the lemon juice.
  • Fill the shaker with ice cubes and shake well until you can tell the mixture is ice cold.
  • Strain the drink into the sugar-rimmed glasses and serve.

Notes

Serve this drink ice cold. Shake the cocktail with the ice until it’s cold, but not too long, as it will become watered down.
The sugar rim is optional, but you may want to add simple syrup to balance the lemon juice.
Feel free to garnish as you wish.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.03g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 29mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 0.1mg
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