The Best Sidecar Cocktail

In honor of Dave’s 40th birthday (ahem…several years ago…), I threw a 1940s-themed party. We have both always been fascinated by the history of that time so this was a fun way to focus on the romance of those days. I found an old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook from the ’40s on eBay and began to research popular party food, and Dave started researching cocktails to select what would be the “signature” drink of the evening. It was a festive evening in mid-April, complete with about 2 feet of new snow that we’ll never forget. Last minute, we hired a couple of my brother’s friends (who were in high school) to be our valets so that when our guests arrived all done up on 1940s couture, they didn’t have to tramp down the street through heavy snow to our door. It was a great scene with ladies in their hats and furs, vintage lace dresses, velvet, and brown silk, feathers and beads, “sailors” just off the boat from the war, to dandies in their fedoras looking for the single ladies in the room, and even a star appearance by “Indiana Jones” (a.k.a. my dad; complete with bull whip). Dave wore a Bogart-esque white dinner jacket and was well-celebrated that night.

It was also the beginning of a Sidecar fascination, as Dave had selected a Champagne Sidecar as the signature cocktail of the evening. Through the years, though I must admit we are mostly wine-focused, Dave would fiddle with Sidecar recipes. Yet he never found one that stuck… Until a few months ago when we had occasion to revisit food and drink history again with friends (this time, Christmas of 1926 in North Yorkshire), over a Downton Abbey dinner. Leading up to the big night, I was “made” to sip Sidecars for final research purposes. Dave had been doing his own research online and found that he wasn’t the only one with the quest for the best Sidecar recipe. See this link for a fun read and background. Don’t you love when someone does full research for you and has all the resources (bars) of New York City? The proof was in the pudding, so to speak. Our guests came, they drank, and they said, “please sir, I want some more.” And since then, it has been a drink for weekend nights at home and has stirred in us (haha, did ya catch that?) a desire to bring back more classics to our cocktail glasses.

 The Best Sidecar Cocktail

recipe adapted by David Kunstle from Pouring Ribbons in NYC


  • 2 parts Pierre Ferrand Cognac for the brandy
  • 1 part Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao (though Cointreau works well too) for the orange liqueur
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice, Meyer lemons create the most delicious version of this cocktail
  • 1-2 tsp. simple syrup made with Demerara or Turbinado sugar; recipe here
  • 1 twist (how to here) and any fresh garnish you desire (go for something seasonal)


  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine brandy, orange liqueur, and lemon juice. If you use the juice from Meyer lemons, consider going a bit lighter on the simple syrup to keep this from being too sweet. Shake over ice, and strain into cocktail glass. No sugar rim wanted or needed here — the touch of simple syrup does the job seamlessly.
  2. Garnish with a twist from the lemon and something lovely…fresh rosemary sprig, just-picked lavender, thyme sprig, an edible flower…whatever makes you happy! Cheers!


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4 Responses to The Best Sidecar Cocktail

  1. Rita says:

    This photo! I can see everyone in the room…Yvette’s polka dot dress…the feathers in Amy’s hat…it’s as though it happened last weekend.Good writing! Thank you for preserving the memories.

  2. Honestly – I’m not sure that I’ve ever had a sidecar! Love the description of your parties

  3. Stephanie says:

    Hi Sally! It’s definitely an old drink, originally from the 1920s, from Paris. The problem is that there are so many mediocre ones made…so if you ever decide to order, be very specific about how you’d like it, or better yet, experiment at home first ;-).

  4. Stephanie says:

    Hi Rita! Such good memories aren’t they? Just another reason to keep celebrating!

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