By admin | October 28, 2011

Photo: joeszilvagyi

By: Ashley Bode

Lovers of dark spirits are happy to welcome the resurgence of classic cocktails on the menu. Take the sidecar for example. Many people would associate brandy or cognac as an after dinner drink, not the base for a tasty citrus-spiked cocktail. Although it may be a cocktail you aren’t so familiar with, perhaps its worth considering this weekend.

Chances are you have already spent time with the Sidecar family. Pisco sours and margaritas are all not so distant relatives you have probably met before. But let’s get back to the original; a true sidecar is brandy or cognac based, mixed with cointreau and lemon juice, shaken, poured up in a glass with a sugar rim and garnished with a lemon twist. The drink obviously relies on the combination of sweet and sour to entice drinkers in, and it has always been just that simple.

The drink dates back to World War I in Paris at either the Ritz Hotel or Harry’s Bar. Regardless, mythology says the drink was first made for an army officer who was always driven about town in a motorcycle sidecar. On this particular day, the officer asked for an aperitif to help combat an impending cold. The bartender, thinking quick, used brandy and a little lemon juice to both warm the officer and offer a citrus remedy. The drink became hugely popular with ex-pats living in Paris and eventually, it made its way back across the pond to become a true American classic.

From here whiskey sours, margaritas and the like find themselves in good company.  All  of these incorporate the use of a spirit with both sour and sweet components and citrus.  Until recently, store-bought sweet and sour mix has given this family of drinks a bad reputation. Like all great recipes, cocktails too require fresh quality ingredients. Using fresh lemon juice and simple syrup makes sours just the way they should be. Simple, delicious and tantalizing to the taste buds.

Want to mix it up a bit? The beauty of brandy and cognac is that they mix so well with other ingredients and there are but a hundred different kinds of each. Take advantage of their adaptability and introduce yourself to a new spirit!

The Big Apple Sidecar Recipe

2 ounces applejack brandy
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce Cointreau, or Grand Marnier
1/4 ounce agave nectar, maple syrup or honey.


  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass, rimmed with brown sugar. Garnish with lemon twist.

To read Ashley’s original post, click here.

Photo: joeszilvagyi

For more of Ashley’s tips and recipes, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)


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