With just three core ingredients, the Sidecar is a testament to beauty in simplicity.

Classic Sidecar Cocktail Recipe

Matt Taylor-Gross / Styling by Lucy Simon

Prep Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
5 mins

The sweet, sour, and citrusy Sidecar happens to be one of my absolute favorite drinks partially because of its vibrant orange color, but also because at the end of the day, I’m a sucker for anything with a sugar rim –– and yes, I do believe in using a sugar rim for a classic Sidecar. The Sidecar was my signature drink at my wedding, and to this day, I enjoy the combination of surprise and appreciation that I get from bartenders whenever I order one on a night out.  

Like most classic cocktails, the Sidecar has a murky origin story. Historians generally agree that the drink came into existence sometime around World War I, and was named after the motorcycle attachment. The earliest recipes appeared around the same time in Harry McElhone’s Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails, as well as Robert Vermiere’s Cocktails and How to Mix Them. There’s some controversy about the proper ratios for a Sidecar –– some folks opt for a one-to-one ratio of Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice, but we prefer going heavier on the Cognac, because a Sidecar is a drink for a good time. 

As always, freshly squeezed lemon juice –– not the bottled stuff –– is the way to go for this cocktail. If you don’t have Cointreau on hand, Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, or even Orange Curacao will technically do the trick, but I feel that Cointreau adds the brightest citrus flavor to my Sidecars, whereas Grand Marnier makes each sip feel a little heavier. When it comes to choosing glassware, go for a coupe (we used one from Mamo, above) or Nick and Nora glass. 


  • 1 1/2 ounces VSOP Cognac

  • 3/4 ounce Cointreau

  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

  • 1 orange peel, for garnish

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, for garnish


  1. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice. Shake for 20 seconds, until chilled on the outside.

  2. Using half a lemon wedge, coat rim of coupe glass. Dip into plate of granulated sugar to rim coupe.

  3. Strain drink into rimmed coupe glass. Garnish with orange peel.

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