How to Make the Perfect Sidecar Cocktail

November 30th, 2016

This is an excerpt from the January/February 2017 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For this and reviews of guitars and gear, plus features on the unique artistry and dedication of Tokyo’s ESP Custom Shop, Kentucky Headhunters lead guitarist Greg Martin and his fine vintage guitars; MLB pitcher/guitar collector/musician Jake Peavy and his efforts to help local musicians, disadvantaged youths, and military veterans; producer/guitarist Daniel Lanois and his passion for pedal-steel guitars, motorcycles, and recording technology… plus much more, pick up the new issue of Guitar Aficionado at your newsstand, or online by clicking anywhere in this text.

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By Chris Gill | Photography by Massimo Gammacurta

Allegedly invented either in London or Paris around the World War I era and popularized in the United States during the Prohibition years, the Sidecar is a classic cocktail with a mysterious history. Some say the drink originated at London’s Buck’s Club, while others claim the Sidecar was invented at Harry’s Bar in Paris, where it was the favorite drink of a certain U.S. Army captain who always arrived at the bar in his friend’s motorcycle sidecar—hence the name. A more logical explanation for the name is that sidecar was bartender slang for the extra amount of a cocktail remaining in the shaker after the serving glass was filled. The leftover mixture from the generous pour was served alongside the drink in a shot glass and called a “sidecar.”

Like the story of its origins and namesake, the recipe for the Sidecar has changed over the years. The original French version calls for a 1:1:1 ratio of Brandy, Curaçao, and lemon juice, but I prefer the English 2:1:1 ratio found in The Savoy Cocktail Book, which is more balanced and not as sweet. When choosing ingredients, I defer to the French, using Rémy Martin VSOP Cognac and Cointreau, which makes the simple syrup called for in some modern recipes unnecessary. For an extra touch of class, I use fresh Meyer lemons when they are in season.

Over the years, most bartenders forgot how to make a good Sidecar, even though the classic version is one of the easiest cocktails to make. Like any simple recipe, the secret of success is starting with great ingredients. Squeeze your own fresh lemon juice, use quality spirits like Cointreau and Rémy Martin Cognac, and even novice mixologists can’t go wrong.

SIDECAR
2 ounces Rémy Martin VSOP Cognac
1 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Place all three ingredients in a shaker with ice cubes. Shake vigorously. Strain into coupe glass and serve with or without lemon or orange peel twist garnish.

This is an excerpt from the January/February 2017 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For this and reviews of guitars and gear, plus features on the unique artistry and dedication of Tokyo’s ESP Custom Shop, Kentucky Headhunters lead guitarist Greg Martin and his fine vintage guitars; MLB pitcher/guitar collector/musician Jake Peavy and his efforts to help local musicians, disadvantaged youths, and military veterans; producer/guitarist Daniel Lanois and his passion for pedal-steel guitars, motorcycles, and recording technology… plus much more, pick up the new issue of Guitar Aficionado at your newsstand, or online by clicking anywhere in this text.

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