How to make a classic Sidecar cocktail


Sex and the City had its Cosmos, Mad Men has its old school cocktails - and after you try a Sidecar you may never want a Cosmo again. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, a devotee of mixology - though technically not an expert, shows you how to shake up a fantastic Sidecar.

How to make a classic Sidecar cocktail

A Sidecar is a classic cocktail made with Cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon juice. This beautiful, vintage cocktail, showed up for the first time in cocktail recipe books in the early 1920’s.  You can create variations using brandy, bourbon or even rum to replace the cognac base.  Rachel Maddow shows us how to make her favorite version – a classic cognac-based Sidecar.


2 ounces Cognac

½ ounce Cointreau

½ ounce fresh lemon juice

Step 1: Add two ounces of Cognac, ½ ounce of Cointreau and ½ ounce of fresh lemon juice to a cocktail shaker.

Step 2: Fill cocktail shaker half way with ice

Step 3: Shake until very cold. Frost should appear on outside of shaker.

Step 4: Pour into cocktail glass.

Optional: Rim the cocktail glass with sugar before pouring cocktail into glass.




Hi. I’m Rachel Maddow for my friends at and I’m going to tell you how to make a Sidecar – one of the greatest original cocktails there is. It’s very simple; you can do it at home. So, the Sidecar only has three ingredients. Cognac is the base spirit. It’s also got Cointreau in it. Cointreau is an orange-based liqueur. It’s clear.  And then it’s got fresh lemon juice.  And that’s it.

I’ll start with the cognac. You want two ounces of Cognac.  This little knob is on the top of the bottle so bartenders can pour fast. I can’t do anything fast; I’m not a “real” bartender. Now, we’re going to put in a half-ounce of Cointreau – a little extra there because I under-poured. And, lemon juice.  Now here’s the thing with lemon juice: it has to be fresh lemon juice.  It can’t come out of a plastic thing that’s called a “lemon” with a little TM after it, that’s in your fridge.  It can’t come out of a bottle. It can’t come out of something marked “Lemonade”.  It actually has to be from a piece of fruit, however upsetting you might find that.  So, lemon, we want a half an ounce of juice. That’s all we need.  And those are the components of your Sidecar.  Now, here comes the fun part… ice.  Now, we are here at Daddy-O’s Bar in the West Village in New York City and it’s a real bar and as I said, I’m not a real bartender.  When I make drinks at home I use like the junior shaker.  I’m a little nervous about using the real bartender shaker.  Let’s see how it goes.  In case you’re not getting the idea, you need to shake for longer than you think you do.  OK, that’s our well-shaken cocktail, cocktail strainer and into our cocktail glass.  This is a beautiful Sidecar. Now, one option you’ve got here, if this isn’t sweet enough for you, you can do a sugar rim around the glass, but I find that embarrassing.

I’m Rachel Maddow for

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  • Rachel Maddow

    Rachel Maddow Host, The Rachel Maddow Show Rachel Maddow hosts msnbc’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” featuring her take on the biggest stories of the day, political and otherwise. She is a dedicated mixology hobbyist who has mixed cocktails for Martha Stewart and Jimmy Fallon. more about this expert »

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