There are several accounts of the Sidecar being a creation sparked by the Prohibition era in America, while other schools of thought place the drink’s origins in Paris in the 1920s. The French roots would make sense as the Sidecar calls for either cognac or brandy, both spirits made from grapes with the former getting its name due to the region of where the grapes hail from in France.
In Jerry Thomas’ 1862 book How To Mix Drinks, the Brandy Crusta is seen as the root of the Sidecar due to its use of brandy, citrus in the form of lemon juice, and curaçao. The prevailing thought is that a bar in Paris improved upon the recipe at the urging of an American military captain arriving at the establishment in a sidecar on the side of a motorcycle.
“It was invented by a friend of mine at a bar in Paris during World War I and was named after the motorcycle sidecar in which the good captain customarily was driven to and from the little bistro where the drink was born and christened,” David A. Embury wrote in his 1948 book, The Fine Art Of Mixing Drinks.
With that said, the Sidecar’s origins are all over the map, and truthfully speaking, there are several ways to get this classic right due to evolving tastes and personal preferences.
The French, known for producing cognac, should also be known for its Calvados brandy, made typically of either apples or pears commonly from the Calvados region in Normandy. And like cognac, there are several rules and designations that are far too technical to get into here. I could only find a bottle of Daron Fine Calvados in my area, but I also have a bottle of Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy bottled-in-bond (100 proof) apple brandy that I may try at some point.
The Sidecar calls for equal parts of brandy, lemon juice, and triple sec, but it all depends on taste. For my version, I used a touch more of the Calvados, so it stands out. The 1:1:1 ratio, in my personal opinion, drowns out the other flavors due to the power of the lemon.
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz triple sec
1 1/2 oz Calvados
Combine the liquids into a shaker filled with ice and give it a vigorous 10 to 15-second mix.
Use the wedge, sliced in the middle, and run it around the rim of the glass. Combine a liberal amount of sugar and cinnamon (or use cinnamon sugar) to then coat the lemon-treated rim, not unlike one would do with a Margarita and salt (or sugar).
Pour the contents of the mixed drink into the cocktail glass and enjoy.
The aroma of the sugar and spice, coupled with the fruit of the brandy, will remind one of apple pie or cinnamon donuts. It’s a drink meant to be sipped, and while easy to drink, two of these will be more than enough for most.
My version of the drink can be seen below…
As always, sip safely and surely.