The Sidecar is a classic cocktail traditionally made with Cognac, orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier or another triple sec), and lemon juice. In its ingredients, the drink is perhaps most closely related to the older Brandy Daisy, which differs both in presentation and in proportions of its components, and regularly includes yellow Chartreuse as its sweetening agent.
The exact origin of the Sidecar is unclear, but it is thought to have been invented around the end of World War I in either London or Paris. The first recipes for the Sidecar appear in 1922, in Harry MacElhone's Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails and Robert Vermeire's Cocktails and How to Mix Them. It is one of six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury's (The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, 1948).
In early editions of MacElhone's book, he cites the inventor as Pat MacGarry, "the Popular bar-tender at Buck's Club, London," but in later editions he cites himself. Vermiere states, "This cocktail is very popular in France. It was first introduced in London by MacGarry, the celebrated bar-tender of Buck's Club." Embury credits the invention of the drink to an American Army captain in Paris during World War I "and named after the motorcycle sidecar in which the good captain was driven to and from the little bistro where the drink was born and christened".
Both MacElhone and Vermiere state the recipe as equal parts Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice, now known as "the French school". Later, an "English school" of Sidecars emerged, as found in the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), which call for two Cognac and one each Cointreau and lemon juice.
According to Embury, the original Sidecar had several more ingredients, which were "refined away." Embury also states the drink is simply a Daiquiri with brandy as its base rather than rum, and with Cointreau as the sweetening agent rather than sugar syrup. He recommends the same proportions (8:2:1) for both, making a much less sweet Sidecar.
The earliest mention of sugaring the rim on a Sidecar glass is 1934, in three different books: Burke's Complete Cocktail & Drinking Recipes, Gordon's Cocktail & Food Recipes, Drinks As They Are Mixed (a revised reprint of Paul E. Lowe's 1904 book).
Context in popular culture
- In Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries series, the heroine's grandmother drinks Sidecars.
- Sidecars are also mentioned in the movie Auntie Mame starring Rosalind Russell. After a night of soirées, Mame Dennis is informed of the imminent arrival of Mr. Babcock, her nephew Patrick's trustee. She requests that Patrick go to Ito, the Japanese house boy, to bring her "a light breakfast- black coffee, and a Sidecar."
- A Sidecar is one of the cocktails offered by Daphne Castle (Maggie Smith) to Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov) in the 1982 film Evil Under the Sun.
- In the Emmy-award winning British period drama series Upstairs, Downstairs, the Sidecar appears twice. During one episode which takes place in 1927, Georgina Worsley makes the cocktail with the assistance of the Bellamy's footman, Frederick. The other mention of the Sidecar comes in 1923 when James Bellamy orders it for himself and his dancing partner in a London night club.
- In the television show Gilmore Girls, Emily Gilmore mentions the Sidecar in two separate episodes.
- In the short story "The Smoker" by David Schickler, the Bonner family drinks Sidecars with lime instead of lemon.
- In the movie A Woman in Flames, Chris serves Eva a Sidecar when they meet in his penthouse for the first time.
- In the movie The Bonfire of the Vanities, Arthur Ruskin (Alan King) is drinking a sidecar when being interviewed by the journalist Peter Fallows (Bruce Willis).
- In the Doctor Who episode The Unicorn and the Wasp the Doctor's companion Donna Noble asks for a Sidecar at Lady Eddison's garden party set in 1926.
- In the episode of The Venture Brothers, Now Museum, Now You Don't, Dr. 'Rusty' Venture is so frustrated with his brother's attempt to outrank him, he orders a Double Sidecar from the bartender at his brother's museum party.
- Chelsea Sidecar — gin replaces the brandy base
- Rum Sidecar — golden or dark rum is substituted for brandy
- Boston Sidecar — both light or golden rum and brandy are used, along with lime replacing lemon
- Spiced Sidecar — Morgan's Spiced Rum is used as well as brandy.
- Brandy Daisy — yellow Chartreuse, grenadine syrup, or another sweetener often replaces the triple sec of a sidecar; proportions differ for the other ingredients which remain similar
- Bourbon Sidecar — bourbon replaces the brandy base
- Pisco Sidecar — Pisco replaces the brandy base