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Zen, Motorcycles and Cocktail Making...

Updated: Apr 20, 2022

The Sidecar


What a strange name - the rumour machine has it, that the Sidecar Cocktail was conceived by a dashing American Army Captain who was seen to ride around the streets of Paris during World War 1, always holding one of these cocktails to hand.


Mmm. Not so sure about that one, but a little bit of romanticism rarely hurt, so let's just go with it for a while....


My all-time hero - Steve McQueen

having sidecar fun on the

set of "The Great Escape"


Before we look at “The Sidecar” - please indulge an early digression into the land of Zen…..


It sorta makes sense because as I was researching the topic for this week and inevitably there was an e-trip to Wikipedia…:


… The Ritz Hotel in Paris claims origin of the drink. 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)….



This is where the Zen part comes in…. And it shows that the wheel is rarely reinvented. I had heard this sentiment mentioned and I couldn’t quite place it…. Let me explain…


In “The Finer art of Mixing Cocktails” the opening page of the Sidecar chapter (p111) reads as follows…


The sentiment is one that sits well with me as it fits comfortably in the cocktail template framework that I am trying to expound. Know the basics and apply them in each situation and rely on the principles to guide you through each cocktail you make whatever the ingredients.


Then it suddenly dawned on me, where had I previously heard this statement. In fact it is postdated and is a zen-like quote from Bruce Lee:





So - the principle is there - practice well a small number of cocktails and then people will be admiring your skills as a cocktail maker rather then trying all the recipes under the sun and relying on the law of averages to get it right!


However - to get back on track….


What’s a sidecar…? Well, it’s characteristically Cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice.


Classic Sidecar recipe


1 ½ measures of Cognac

1 measure Cointreau

¾ measure of lemon juice

(Garnish with an orange twist, expressing

the twist over the drink then rubbing

the twist around the glass rim)


Essentially Sidecars evolved from the Daiquiri - which as you now know is a ‘sour’ based cocktail - bright and slightly acidic drinks, the sidecar is a cocktail that showcases by suitable usage of a liqueur, thereby giving a rich, liqueur/citrus combination that is wholesome a