On the Sauce: Historic Sauce — Sidecar (with video)

The first installment of a five-part series on time-tested cocktails that everyone should know.

click to enlarge On the Sauce: Historic Sauce — Sidecar (with video)
Chris Fasick

We're gonna switch things up here at On the Sauce for a bit. Instead of original and classic drink recipes, alongside local cocktail spotlights, I'm turning my focus to a five-part series on historic sippers that everyone should know — and try.

We'll get into the history behind each cocktail, yes. But it's worth noting that the origins of 100-year-old drinks can be as blurry as trying to remember what you said to your ex in that drunk voicemail last weekend. These cocktails will be easy to make, too, because I'm pretty sure it wasn't about complicated formulas or, like, craft ice back in the day.

For Part 1 of this series — which kicks off, well, now — the Sidecar is in the spotlight. If you've never had the sophisticated cocktail's main ingredient, Cognac, and you're assuming you don't like it, let me bring you up to speed. Cognac, classified as a brandy, is made by double-distilling white wine in copper stills, which is then aged in oak casks (like whiskey) for at least two years. Do I have your attention now?

The Sidecar's history is a little muddled. One story pinpoints its origin to Harry's New York Bar in Paris during the 1920s, when an American Army captain would supposedly ride up to the famed bar in a motorcycle sidecar in search of something to warm him up. That one seems a little far-fetched to me. Another dates back to 19th-century New Orleans, though Bar Hemingway at the Ritz Paris also claims to be the originator.

Equally confusing is the recipe. In fact, the only thing anybody can agree on are its ingredients: Cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice. While the proportions are disputed, I tend to favor equal parts of all three, or an extra kick of Cognac, which is what this week's cocktail calls for. It's a good place to start until you figure out your preference.

The Sidecar is a well-balanced cocktail and a great introduction to the realm of Cognac. Some folks like it best as an after-dinner drink, but no pressure. Feel free to sip this one no matter what time of day it is.

click to enlarge On the Sauce: Historic Sauce — Sidecar (with video)
Chris Fasick


Makes 1

1.5 ounces Cognac

1 ounce orange liqueur

1 ounce fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

Sugar rim

In a cocktail shaker, add all ingredients and top with ice. Shake until well-chilled. Rim a coupe glass with a lemon wedge, and then dip it into sugarStrain in cocktail and garnish with an orange (or lemon) twist.

Follow CL contributor Chris Fasick (@cfasick) on Twitter, or email him at [email protected] if there's a cocktail or recipe you'd like featured.

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