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The Side-car is a Cocktail consisting of Cognac, Cointreau (Triple Sec), and Fresh Lemon Juice. Harry's New York Bar in Paris claims credit for the cocktail's invention in 1931. However, there are reports of the cocktail being made earlier.


The History of the Side-car

Robert Vermiere says (1922): "This cocktail is very popular in France. It was first introduced in London by MacGarry, the celebrated bar-tender of Buck's Club".

Harry MacElhone says (1922), "Recipe by MacGarry, the Popular bar-tender at Buck's Club, London."

MacGarry was the first bartender at the Bucks Club, when it opened in 1918.

Buck's Club: 18 Clifford Street London, England W1S 3RF. 020 7734 2337.

According to David Herpin

This drink is widely believed to be first printed in "Harry of Ciro's - A B C of mixing drinks", which was first published in 1923, then republished (more common) in 1925. The book is often called "Harry's A B C of mixing drinks" for unknown reasons. Regardless, this cocktail appears as early as: A Book of famous old New Orleans recipes used in the South for over 200 years - no author in 1907

It was likely the sidecar itself that pushed this drink into modern american drinking culture. The sidecar dates to atleast 1903, and became very popular with years. By 1908 nearly every american motorcycle had some form of sidecar attacthment.

The sidecar cocktail remained popular throughout prohibition and by 1937 it was one of the most popular american drinks as seen here:

Famous New Orleans drinks & how to mix 'em by Stanley Clisby Arthur, Arthur in 1937

"Side Car Cocktail 1 jigger cognac brandy 1 pony Cointreau 1 lime — juice only Pour into a mixing glass with cracked ice and shake well. Strain from the shaker into a cocktail glass, chilled before serving. The imported French Cointreau ..."

Trinity town by Norman Collins in 1937

""What about a cocktail ?" Mr. Broster asked. "What would you like — a Bronx or a Sidecar?" "A Sidecar," Vicky told him. She had never had a cocktail before, but she said it in the tone of someone who having ranged through the whole ..."

This drink definitely derives from the south, likely New Orleans. It is unclear when the sugar rim was added, certainly in the second half of the 20th century. Between 1903 - 1940 this drink might have contained egg white as seen here:

CIE: Volume 47 by Hotel & Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union, Hotel and Restaurant Employees' International Alliance and Bartenders' International League of America, Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International Union - in 1938 "As you probably remember, I hazarded the opinion that the DuBouchet (however it's spelled) Cocktail School was distinctly going off half- cocked when they advised white of an egg in a Sidecar Cocktail."

This drink dates between 1903 - 1907 and contained at least as of then:

Shake these ingredients with cracked ice:



Fresh Lime Juice

Simple Syrup (Modern)

Strain into a Sugar-rimmed cocktail Glass (Modern)

Side-car Myth

The Sidecar was originally invented at a bar in Paris, France for one of the patrons who was fond of arriving driven in a motorcycle sidecar.

First Listed Recipes for the Side-Car (8:8:8 ratio)

The first recipe for the Side-car appears in 1922, in Robert Vermiere's Cocktails: How to Mix Them.


Fill the shaker half full of broken ice and add:

  • 1/6 gill of fresh Lemon Juice.
  • 1/6 gill of Cointreau.
  • 1/6 gill of Cognac Brandy.

Shake well and strain into a Cocktail Glass.

This cocktail is very popular in France. It was first introduced in London by MacGarry, the celebrated bar-tender of Buck's Club

In his book after giving his Side-car recipe, Harry MacElhone writes, "Recipe by MacGarry, the Popular bar-tender at Buck's Club, London."

Historical References


"Another new cocktail, second only in popularity to the monkey gland, has been named a "side-car," because it takes the imbiber for a ride. Two-thirds brandy, one-sixth Cointreau and one-sixth lemon juice make up this concoction."

The New Yorker, 1925

"A sidecar is made by mixing brandy and Cointreau."

"The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks" (1948) by David Embury

"This cocktail is the most perfect example I know of a magnificent drink gone wrong. It was invented by a friend of mine at a bar in Paris during World War I and was named after the motercycle sidecar in which the good captain customarily was driven to and from the little bistro where the drink was born and christened. As originally concocted it contained some six or seven ingredients in place of the three now set forth in practically all recipe books."

Historical Recipes (with drink ratios)

Recipe: Robert Vermiere, (8:8:8)

  • 1/6 gill of fresh Lemon Juice.
  • 1/6 gill of Cointreau.
  • 1/6 gill of Cognac Brandy.

Shake well and strain into a Cocktail Glass.

Recipe: 18th May 1923, News Paper Article (8:2:2)

  • 2 oz brandy,
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau,
  • 1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice.

Shake with Ice, and then strain into Cocktail Glass.

Recipe: Harry Craddock, The Savoy Cocktail Book (8:4:4)

  • 1/4 Lemon Juice.
  • 1/4 Cointreau.
  • 1/2 Brandy.

Shake well and strain to cocktail glass.

Recipe: David Embury (8:1:2)

  • 2 oz Brandy,
  • 1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice,
  • 1/4 oz Cointreau.

Shake with ice. Strain into cocktail glass.

The Side-Car is similar to which other drinks?

David Wondrich Says:

"Certainly the Brandy Crusta is in there. Also in there, though, is the Brandy Daisy. While this began its life as a Brandy Fizz--brandy, juice of half a lemon, dashes of gum syrup--with orange cordial in place of some of the sugar, by the 1880s it was served in a cocktail glass rather than a fizz glass, and had only a little fizz water in it. By 1900, one even finds an English recipe omitting the fizz water altogether (although, truth be told, it also omits the orange cordial, substituting Yellow Chartreuse). Somewhere out of all this, the Sidecar emerged. Its proportions of lemon juice and orange cordial are much more like those of the Daisy, while it loses the bubbles and swipes the Crusta's sugar rim."

The Sugar rim on the Side-Car

The earliest mention for the sugar rim on the Sidecar glass is 1934, in three different books:

Burke's Complete Cocktail & Drinking Recipes,

Gordon's Cocktail & Food Recipes,

Drinks As They Are Mixed (a reprint of Paul E. Lowe's 1904 book, with a couple of pages of "Popular Specials" spliced it).

Video Demonstrations on the Web

Similar Drinks Discussion Board Threads on the Side-car

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