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The Sidecar – A Week in Review

Posted by Aaron on 2008-06-27 @ 03:54pm

Today marks the end of our first week here at, a week of tasting, and experimenting with, one of my all-time favorite cocktails, the Sidecar.  Throughout the week, Reese and I have tested many different recipes, some of them exceptional, and some of them not so much.

Of the many lessons we’ve learned about the Sidecar this week, the most important, I think, and this is apparent to me only now as I review our tasting notes, the key to a good sidecar is equal parts Cointreau and lemon juice.  While the amount of brandy can vary significantly between recipes and still produce a very tasty cocktail, it seems that altering the balance of Cointreau and lemon has only a negative affect on the overall quality of the final drink.

Also of note, as Reese and I imbibed cocktail after cocktail, it became clear that we were, in fact, each looking for a Sidecar with somewhat different qualities.  While my associate tended more toward the drier of the Sidecar recipes, my tastes ran more to the sweet.  After much debate, and several black eyes (I’ll never be pretty again), we’ve each decided to name a favorite recipe.

Reese’s preferred concoction places the brandy upfront and allows the sweet and sour components to mingle softly [ed note – We’re going to need to call a wordsmith from the wordsmithery to clean up this sentence] in the background:

  • 2 parts Cognac
  • 1 part Cointreau
  • 1 part Lemon Juice

My preference was for the “original” recipe, calling for equal parts brandy, Cointreau, and lemon juice.  This recipe, while certainly not something to waste high quality Cognac on, provides a nice balance of flavors, and is also a good choice for those rare occasions when a person cannot be assured of their ingredients’ quality:

  • 1 part Cognac
  • 1 part Cointreau
  • 1 part Lemon Juice

Two of the other recipes we’ve enjoyed this week:

Robert Hess’ recipe which we both liked, but Reese found to be “a little too poundable” (it’s like we’re from different planets, Reese and I):

  • 4 parts Cognac
  • 2 parts Cointreau
  • 1 part Lemon Juice

And the Difford’s, which places the Cognac way up front, but still maintains a balanced sweet and sour component:

  • 3 parts Cognac
  • 1 part Cointreau
  • 1 part Lemon Juice