For the most part, the recipes for classic cocktails are somewhat set in stone. Yes, you can make a new twist on a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned, but the true recipe and ingredient proportions will still remain the same.
Not so for the Sidecar.
Depending on where you order this old-school and easy-to-make cocktail, you’ll get something different from bartenders who swear that their version is the original. For instance, Sidecars are often served with a sugared rim. This is by design and most likely because the actual drink tends to be on the sour side. Modern bartenders have wisely started to balance out the sweet-to-sour ratio in the cocktail and eschew the sugared rim. I’m very much for this evolution as sugar on the rim of your glass is just a pain. Harry Craddock, the famous Parisian bartender who is possibly the inventor of this early 20th-century drink, might feel different. C’est la vie!
Made from cognac, lemon juice and triple sec, a Sidecar’s proportions vary wildly from equal parts for each ingredient — quite tart — to a more rational recipe of mostly cognac. My take on all this is balance. In the same way some palates prefer a sweet margarita and others more on the sour side, it all comes down to what you like.
Never miss a local story.
However, this makes it tough on bartenders who have to please all of the people all of the time. So to strike a balance that everyone should enjoy, I have to side with the mostly cognac version; you can’t go wrong there, can you? This version is quite similar to a whiskey sour, but with the sweeter and fruity notes from the cognac and orange liqueur, it’s a bit more luxurious and — shall I say — smooth on sipping.
Kevin Hopper has never ridden in a sidecar but is known to shake a few at Capitol Bar, a State Street cocktail house in Northwest Boise.
2 ounce cognac (Hennessy does the trick)
1/2 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake for 20-30 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass and enjoy. To add a touch more orange flavor, express an orange peel over the drink. Otherwise, no garnish is necessary.