Ritz Bar, Paris, France (1920s)
The Sidecar is an elegant, refined sip that recalls Paris in the 1920s, when Prohibition had forced America’s best bartenders overseas. Swap the brandy for tequila, lemon for lime, and you pretty much have a Margarita.
It’s traditional to moisten the glass rim with lemon and dip the rim in sugar – but certainly not necessary. I find the drink perfectly balanced on its own.
The Sidecar and the Margarita are where you’ll understand why a quality triple sec like Cointreau is worth every penny versus a cheaper variety that would overpower the drink with syrupy sweetness.
It’s said to be named for an American Army Captain stationed in Paris around the end of World War I who visited the Ritz Bar in a motorcycle sidecar – who knows, really? All you need to know about the Sidecar will be conveyed in your first sip: it’s a delicious classic worthy of its status.
Hardware: Shaker, Jigger
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass
Spirits: Brandy or Cognac (recommended: Germain-Robin, Pierre Ferrand, Hennessy, Courvoisier)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Triple sec (recommended: Cointreau)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lemon juice, Lemon wheel, White sugar (optional)
Chill a cocktail glass in the freezer at least ten minutes.
If you choose to sugar the rim, sprinkle some sugar on a plate and moisten either the full rim or just half with your lemon wheel garnish and lightly press the glass rim into the sugar. Try to avoid getting sugar on the interior glass surface.
In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:
2 oz brandy or Cognac
1 oz triple sec
3/4 oz lemon juice
Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.