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The Sidecar is often singled out as the only good cocktail to come out of the long national nightmare that was Prohibition. And when you’re sipping one, you almost think it was all worth it. The luminous, golden-straw color, the perfectly controlled sweetness, the jazzy high notes of the citrus against the steady bass of the brandy. This is a drink whose suavité is beyond question — it’s the Warren Beatty of modern mixology. It’s so easy, in fact, to be seduced by this clever old roué that a word of caution would not be out of place here. These gents have a way of stealing up on you and — bimmo! Next thing you know it’s 8:43 on Monday morning and you’re sitting in the backseat of a taxi idling in front of your place of employ. In your skivvies.

While unanimity prevails as to what goes into a Sidecar, there’s considerable dissension about the proportions. The so-called French school holds to a Trinitarian philosophy — three equal parts. We like more of the Holy Ghost in ours.



  1. If desired, rima chilled cocktail glass with sugar.
  2. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shakerwith ice cubes.
  3. Shakewell.
  4. Strain into the prepared cocktail glass.
  5. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The History of the Sidecar:

As most origins of cocktails go, there are a few versions of how the Sidecar came into being. One story, as told by David Embury in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks(1948), says that it was developed in a Parisian bistro during World War I by a friend who rode to the favorite bar in the sidecar of a motorcycle. Which bar this was is left to speculation, but is popularly thought to be Harry’s New York Bar.

Another claim to the Sidecar invention attributes Frank Meier who worked at the Paris Ritz. As Gaz Regan pointed out in The Joy of Mixology, this was later disputed by a man named Bertin who worked at the Ritz after Meier.

The next story moves to Buck’s Club in London. In his 1922 book Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails, Harry MacElhone credits the drink to Pat MacGarry, one of the great bartenders of the day. This was also backed up in Robert Vermeire’s 1922 Cocktails and How to Mix Them.

Whichever theory is correct will remain a matter of debate and opinion. One thing that is agreed upon is that the Sidecar is a classic sour drink. Sours were quite popular during the golden age of cocktails in the early 1900’s and were a simple mix of base spirit, sour (primarily lemon), and a touch of sweetness. Other great sour drinks came about at the same time, i.e. Brandy Daisy, Whiskey Sour, Margarita. Beyond that, the Sidecar has influenced many other cocktails which include Boston Sidecar, Pisco Sidecar, Rum Sidecar, Chelsea Sidecar (Delilah or White Lady), and Balalaika (vodka in place of brandy).

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