SIDECARS —

THE TIMELESS BRANDY CLASSIC COCKTAIL

The Sidecar is a sophisticated cocktail that originated in Paris at Harry’s New York Bar during the First World War purportedly by an American Army captain. Stories vary regarding the exact circumstances, but all include references to a motorcycle sidecar. In one such account, the captain actually drove his motorcycle into the bar.

The one constant between all of the versions is the principal recipe, which is two parts brandy, one part Cointreau and three parts lemon juice. The drink is shaken with ice and served in a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with sugar.

Smooth and delicious, the Sidecar is a classic cocktail of the 20th century. While an uncomplicated concoction, the drink presents many creative possibilities. —RP


SIDECARS AT A GLANCE

• DIFFICULTY OF PREPARATION: 4.6 OUT OF 10 — The little preparation involved making a Sidecar is neither difficult nor time-consuming. They’re typically served in one of two ways. The traditional method is handshaking the drink with ice and serving it straight in a chilled cocktail glass. The other approach is to serve the drink on the rocks, in which case the ingredients are hand-shaken and strained it into iced tumbler. That’s it.

[Scale 1– 10: A drink with a value of 5.0 or lower means it’s quickly and easily prepared, while one with a value closer to 10 indicates that several days and an advanced engineering degree are required.]


• UP-SELLING POTENTIAL: 9.7 OUT OF 10 — The Sidecar is an ideal example of a cocktail with tremendous up-sell potential. First and foremost there’s the fact that the better the brandy, the better cocktail. Secondly, boosting sales of premium brands makes good business sense. They command higher prices and yield bigger margins.

Indeed, committing premium brandy or cognac to a Sidecar isn’t sacrilege it's creative genius.  When setting out to devise a top-shelf Sidecar, choose a recipe with a minimum of ingredients that may obscure the enhanced quality of the brandy. Also, to best accentuate the spirit, the cocktail should be served straight up rather than on the rocks.

In addition to enhancing the quality of the brandy, you can also upgrade the modifier from triple sec to either Cointreau or Grand Marnier. Both are orange-flavored liqueurs with proven track records for performing brilliantly in Sidecars.

Between upgrading its brandy base and orange liqueur modifier, the Sidecar is an up-sell tour de force.

[Scale 1– 10: A drink with an up-selling potential of 5.0 or higher means it’s a financial thoroughbred, a cocktail tailor-made for top-shelf spirits. A cocktail rating below 5 signifies a drink in which the brand of spirits used are of secondary importance compared to the overall effect looking to be achieved.]


• ALCOHOL POTENCY — A Sidecar served straight up is more potent than one served on the rocks. Shaking the drink with ice adds some water into the mix, yet the resulting cocktail is still a relatively potent 1-part alcohol to 1-part mix (1:1).  When served on the rocks, the ratio changes to a milder 1-part alcohol to 2-parts mix (1:2).

[As a general rule, 1 1/4-ounces of distilled spirits is equal in alcohol to 4-ounces of wine and 10-ounces of beer.]


• PORTIONING CONSIDERATIONS — Sidecars are typically prepared using one part alcohol (brandy and triple sec) to one part mix. More specifically, brandy portions usually range from 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 ounces, while most recipes call for 1/2 to 3/4 ounces of triple sec. When setting out to devise a Sidecar masterpiece, it’s a good idea beginning with equal parts of alcohol to mix. From there making the drink stronger or more citrusy involves little more than a minor tweak to the recipe.


• SEASONAL ORIENTATION AND TRADE PERIOD — Sidecars are as promotable in May and June as they are in fall or during the holidays. That does presume that the sipping is taking place indoors. Sidecars aren’t necessarily the outdoor type. As a classic cocktail, Sidecars are best promoted before and during dinner. They’re perfect aperitifs—light-bodied and vivacious. By the time dinner winds down, guests’ thoughts tend to lean toward more robust postprandial concoctions.


• GLASSWARE OPTIONS — Sidecars served straight up require a cocktail glass with a minimum of five-ounces in capacity. There are a wide variety of shapes and sizes from which to choose, so pick a style that best epitomizes the cocktail’s personality. Serving the same cocktail on the rocks requires a glass with a minimum capacity of ten-ounces. Here again, there are numerous styles of tumblers and specialty glasses designed for iced cocktails. Choose the one that best showcases your efforts.


• ALCOHOL-FREE OPTIONS: 1.0 OUT OF 10 — Try as we might, our brains couldn’t quite conceive of how to prepare an alcohol-free Sidecar.  However, that said, we still gave it a rating of 1 out of 10 because we’re still thinking.

[Scale: The rating of 1.0 out of 10 indicates that alcohol-free variation of the Sidecar still eludes us.]


CREATING SIDECAR MAGIC

No one appreciates the understated beauty of the Sidecar more than we do. In fact, Finest Call has developed the most delectable sour mixes on the planet. They play a pivotal role in enhancing the quality and taste of the cocktail and allowing its various ingredients to meld seamlessly into one harmonious thought.


• FINEST CALL SWEET & SOUR MIX — There are more drinks in the lexicon of American mixology made with a lemon-forward sweet & sour than all other drink mixes combined. FINEST CALL SWEET & SOUR MIX is a blend of all-natural lemon, orange and lime extracts. Sweeteners are added to throttle back some of the citrus exuberance, resulting in a delectably flavorful drink mix.

Its naturally tart character provides the all-important foundation for the following Sidecar recipes.

Amber Waves Sidecar (Finest Call Sweet & Sour)

Grand Sidecar (Finest Call Sweet & Sour)

Lucky Sidecar (Finest Call Sweet & Sour)

Regal Sidecar (Finest Call Sweet & Sour)

Sidecar (Finest Call Sweet & Sour)

Sidecar in Bombay (Finest Call Sweet & Sour)


• FINEST CALL LIME SOUR MIX — A franchise player in the booming cocktail culture, lime sour mix is perhaps best known as the traditional undercarriage of the Margarita. The key to its palate-pleasing personality is the delicate balance between the fresh citrus and sweetener. FINEST CALL LIME SOUR MIX is bottled in an easily measured concentrated form, which affords the opportunity to control the exact amount of puckery tartness desired in the finished mix.

The following Sidecars are all ready for primetime and feature Finest Call Premium Lime Sour Mix.

Cuban Sidecar (Finest Call Lime Sour Mix)

Love In a Sidecar (Finest Call Lime Sour Mix)

Sweet Rims Sidecar (Finest Call Lime Sour Mix)

West Indies Sidecar (Finest Call Lime Sour Mix)


• FINEST CALL TRIPLE SEC — Triple Sec plays an essential role in the Margarita. Specifically, it adds body to the drink, a touch of sweetness and an orange aroma and flavor. An added benefit is that our Triple Sec contains no alcohol and has a low cost per ounce. Two of the more prominent features of FINEST CALL TRIPLE SEC are its lightweight body and bouquet of freshly peeled citrus and lemon zest. Rounding out its qualifications for service are its brilliant orange flavor and crisp, clean finish. Great stuff!

You’ll find Finest Call Triple Sec featured in the following signature Sidecar recipes.

Cuban Sidecar (Finest Call Triple Sec)

Lucky Sidecar (Finest Call Triple Sec)

Sidecar (Finest Call Triple Sec)


FINEST CALL FRESH

Creating a world-class sour mix is cause for celebration. The challenge is devising one that tastes delicious and refreshing on its own. Success depends entirely on achieving balance. Add a touch too much sweetness and the mix will be cloying. Back off on the sweetener and you’ll have an acidic, bitter mess.

All of our sour mixes—FINEST CALL SWEET & SOUR, FINEST CALL LIME SOUR MIX and FINEST CALL MARGARITA MIX, —are surgically balanced, light-bodied and loaded with tangy, vibrant flavors. Most importantly, they’re up for the challenge of the taste test. Just add the tequila, a modifier or two and it should be a smooth, interesting journey from there.

If you have an urge to improve on perfection and have access to some fabulously luscious fruit—be they limes, lemons or oranges—go ahead and squeeze the juice into one of our sour mixes. They’ll be all that much better for it and give your Sidecars a leg up on the competition, even if your only competition is your last batch of Sdiecars.

A few tips about juicing citrus. Room temperature fresh fruit yields more juice than those straight from the walk-in cooler. Make sure to not allow the bitter white pith of the zest from getting into the juice. While pulp in orange or grapefruit juice is a cache of quality, lime and lemon juice needs to be strained before use. Fresh lime juice needs to be refrigerated and won’t keep much more than 24 hours before needing to be discarded.


• THE MUDDLED DIFFERENCE — Another popular way to inject your Sidecar with more pizzazz is to muddle in fresh seasonal fruit or savory herbs and spices. Drinks prepared with Finest Call mixes and muddled ingredients are a slice above the rest, typically possessing supple, satiny-textured bodies, generous bouquets and palates imbued with enticing, tree-ripened flavors.

Beyond its theatrical appeal, muddling is an effective way to infuse your Sidecars with flavors such as ginger, cucumbers and peppers to basil, mint and every type of fresh fruit imaginable. Factor in how muddling enhances the drink’s production value and you’ll begin to appreciate why muddling has become a significant beverage trend.


SIDECARS — TIPS FOR PROS

From Main Street to Wall Street, people are rediscovering the unsurpassed character of brandy. Not surprisingly, this renaissance was not born with a snifter in its hand. Instead, the birth of this mega-trend came about from people exploring brandy’s creative range and limitless mixability.

Brandy is unique within the spirit world. While most types of liquors—vodka, gin and whiskeys—are distilled using cereal grains, brandy is made from grapes. It is essentially wine that is distilled rather than going through the winemaking process. In fact, brandy is a derivative of the German word meaning “burnt wine.” As a result, brandy has an incomparably fresh and vibrant flavor. Its personality and character is so universally appealing that it has the rare ability to complement a huge range of other flavors.

When it comes to mixability, brandy is a top performer behind the bar. It creates a foundation with an alluring bouquet and exuberant, fruit-induced flavor. Add a modifier or two and you’ve got the makings of something truly spectacular. The epitome of all brandy drinks is the venerable Sidecar.

To help facilitate your quest for the definitive Sidecar, here is our best advice on how to achieve your goal.


• BRANDY SELECTION — Brandies come in a wide variety of styles. They are made in every wine-producing nation and have as many different looks and personalities as the United Nations. One thing is for certain, the better the brandy, the better the Sidecar.

The upper echelon of the category is reserved for the brandies of Cognac. Their lineage and uncompromised quality have earned them their lofty status among the community of spirits. It is also a highly mixable spirit, and no better cocktail exists for promoting the incomparable characteristics of cognac than the Sidecar.

Cognac houses produce a variety of different grades of cognac, many with the accepted designations, e.g. VS, VSOP, XO. Cognac labels bear no age statements. Typically, however, brandies carrying a VS designation have been aged between 4 and 7 years. VSOP cognacs usually have been aged for 5 to 13 years, while XO, Extra, Napoleon, Vielle Reserve or Hors d’Age cognacs range in age from 7 to 40 years. These enormous age spreads account for much of the individuality and distinctions between cognac houses.

For making cocktails, selecting a VS cognac is more than adequate. They typically possess vibrant personalities that are tempered when mixed. As one progresses higher up the cognac designations, the more aging the brandy has received the more mellow and refined the cognac.

Many a Sidecar, however, is prepared with a premium brandy other than cognac. Options include Armagnac and Calvados, an alembic distilled apple brandy produced in Normandy. Eaux-de-vies—such as Poire William and Kirsch—are clear distillates of fruit or grape wine. These brandies are typically rested in glass vessels, which preserve the clarity of the brandy and leave it dry and flavorful.

American brandies are made in every wine-producing region of the United States, most notably New York, Washington, Oregon and California. Particularly noteworthy are the critically acclaimed brandies of Germain-Robin and Jepson Winery in Ukiah, California. Equipped with copper alembic stills, they are handcrafting brandies from premium grape varietals, such as Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and French Columbard. These Californian artisan brandies are ideally suited for use in an ultra premium Sidecar.


• SPIRIT OPTIONS — As great as this cocktail is, the creative urge to tweak and tinker should not be suppressed. A brilliant variation of the Sidecar is obtained substituting brandy with Metaxa 7-Star. It’s an elegant Greek spirit made from double-distilled brandy that’s infused with aged Muscat wine and a secret botanical mix. The Metaxa melds seamlessly with the Cointreau and fresh lemon sour mix.

Another direction to steer a Sidecar is making the drink with whiskey instead of brandy. Bourbon, Rye, Irish, Scotch and Canadian are completely comfortable paired with Cointreau and mixed with a fresh lemon sour mix. Thus the universal appeal of the Whiskey Stone Sour. No worries if a particular whiskey is finished in port pipes, sherry butts, bourbon barrels, or even Madeira casks, the major components of a Sidecar adapts to them all.

One would be remiss if an aged rum wasn’t seriously considered for the leading role in a Sidecar. It’s a dynamic way to introduce people to the refined character and lavish flavors of such heavyweights as Mount Gay Extra Old, Rhum Barbancourt Estate Reserve, Rhum Clément V.S.O.P., Pyrat XO or Zaya Gran Reserva.


• THE TRIPLE PLAY —The modifier is an essential ingredient. Its supporting role is to soften the edge of the liquor and add dimension and personality. The orange modifier in the Sidecar works to seamlessly meld the brandy and sour mix base into a well harmonious cocktail.

Triple sec is a clear orange-flavored liqueur. The best advice governing its use is to select the most premium brand within reach. An inferior triple sec can negate much of your creative efforts. As one might anticipate, there is a wide range of quality among the various brands of triple sec.

FINEST CALL TRIPLE SEC is an excellent choice. It adds body to the drink, a touch of sweetness and an alluring orange aroma and flavor. An added benefit is that our Triple Sec contains no alcohol and has a low cost per ounce.

Cointreau is a popular modifier in super-premium Sidecars. The classic French liqueur is crystal clear, highly aromatic with a lush orange palate. An advantage to using Cointreau in a signature Sidecar is that the liqueur will augment the cocktail’s bouquet and taste profile, but won’t alter its natural color.

Equally revered, Grand Marnier is an orange-flavored French liqueur formulated with a cognac-base. Modifying the cocktail with Grand Marnier will slightly alter its color while flavoring the Sidecar with brandy and succulent oranges.


• ADDING PIZZAZZ — The Sidecar is traditionally presented in a sugar-rimmed glass. There are a number of different ways to adhere the sugar, the most frequent of which is to wet the rim of the glass with water and gently dip it into a saucer of granulated sugar. Substitute grenadine for the water and the sugar rim will turn red. Dipping the glass into any variety of juices to produce sugar rims with different flavors and color. A number of purveyors also market sugars (and salts) in a wide array of colors and flavors just for this very purpose.

One final thought regarding adding sugar to the rim of a cocktail glass. Often the wisest course of action is coating only half of the rim instead of its entirety. That offers the recipient the choice of whether to sip the Sidecar with or without an added blast of sugar.


FINEST CALL SIDECAR RECIPE

SIDECAR

Sugar rimmed cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

1 1/2 oz. Brandy

3/4 oz. Finest Call Triple Sec

2 oz. Finest Call Sweet & Sour

Shake and strain


FINEST CALL SIGNATURE SIDECARS

AMBER WAVES SIDECAR

Sugar rimmed cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

1 oz. Brandy

1 oz. Drambuie

3/4 oz. Cointreau

2 oz. Finest Call Sweet & Sour

Shake and strain

Garnish with an orange slice


CUBAN SIDECAR

Cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

1 1/2 oz. Light Rum

1 oz. Finest Call Triple Sec

2 oz. Finest Call Lime Sour Mix

Shake and strain

Garnish with a lime wheel


GRAND SIDECAR

Sugar rimmed brandy snifter, ice

Pour into an iced mixing glass

1 1/2 oz. Brandy

1 oz. Grand Marnier

2 oz. Finest Call Sweet & Sour

Shake and strain


LOVE IN A SIDECAR

Sugar rimmed cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

1 3/4 oz. Cognac

3/4 oz. Damiana Liqueur

3/4 oz. Cointreau

2 oz. Finest Call Lime Sour Mix

Shake and strain


LUCKY SIDECAR

Sugar rimmed cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

1 3/4 oz. Irish Whiskey

3/4 oz. Finest Call Triple Sec

2 oz. Finest Call Sweet & Sour

Shake and strain


REGAL SIDECAR

Sugar rimmed cocktail glass, chilled or brandy snifter, ice

Pour into an iced mixing glass

1 3/4 oz. Apple Brandy

1 oz. Grand Marnier

1 3/4 oz. Finest Call Sweet & Sour

Shake and strain

2-3 splashes Champagne

Garnish with an orange twist


SIDECAR IN BOMBAY

Sugar rimmed cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

1 3/4 oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin

3/4 oz. Grand Marnier

1 3/4 oz. Finest Call Sweet & Sour

Shake and strain


SWEET RIMS SIDECAR

Cinnamon sugar rimmed cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

1 oz. Hennessy X.O Cognac

1 oz. Grand Marnier

2 oz. Finest Call Lime Sour Mix

Shake and strain

Garnish with a lime wheel


WEST INDIES SIDECAR

Sugar rimmed cocktail glass, chilled

Pour into an iced mixing glass

1 1/2 oz. Clément V.S.O.P. Rhum

3/4 oz. Clément Créole Shrubb

1 1/2 oz. Finest Call Lime Sour Mix

Shake and strain

Garnish with a lime wedge

Difficulty of
Preparation

Upselling
Potential

Alcohol-Free
Options