The Sidecar Is the Classic Cocktail Making a Surprise Comeback

A Cognac-based drink, the Sidecar is gaining traction in the world's top bars

A chilled Sidecar cocktail in a coupe glass with a sugared rim on a dark wood table next to a leather seat. The Sidecar is gaining in popularity in top bars.
The Sidecar is a simple drink to make that's quite delicious.
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Cognac and brandy are supposedly in decline. So, how to explain the newfound popularity of the Sidecar, a drink built from brandy, orange liqueur and fresh lemon juice? The Sidecar’s rebound is news courtesy of the Drinks International Cocktail Report 2024, an annual magazine that features a top 50 list of the bestselling classic cocktails at the world’s best bars.

“Though it’s only the second year of this new-format Cocktail Report, it’s our 10th year asking the world’s best bars about the classic cocktails they serve, which gives some data-backed insight into how long-term trends come about,” says Hamish Smith, editor of the Cocktail Report. “Classics, by their nature, are cocktails with real purchase and longevity, but they too are subject to trends. This year seven drinks made [their] way in our list of 50…and there too were some big risers — the Sidecar for example — and some speedily headed in the opposite direction — the Jungle Bird being one.”

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As the publication notes, Cognac isn’t exactly the base spirit for classic cocktails, referring to the Sidecar as “its foremost, somewhat lonely champion — at least among those classics that have remained popular today.” The drink’s origins are murky. Drinks International suggests the cocktail is an evolution of the Brandy Crusta and either has Pat McGarry at London’s Buck Club or Harry MacElhone at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris to thank for its invention.

Interestingly, the Sidecar’s popularity may involve a spirits substitution, including bourbon or rum; if that really continues to be a Sidecar, well, that’s up to the bartender. In modern times, the cocktail den Death & Co. considers the Sidecar as source material for many of its drinks.

The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails notes that the first recipe for the Sidecar appeared in print in 1922 in two different cocktail books. The drink’s popularity began around that time in Europe but also spread to the speakeasies in New York. The drink can be made with equal proportions of its three ingredients or a variation, the most common being two parts Cognac to one part of triple sec and lemon, shaken with ice and strained into a coupe. The drink is often served in a glass with a frosted sugar rim.


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