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.
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.