The Sidecar Cocktail is a classic 3-ingredient cocktail perfect for night caps, date nights, or when you’re entertaining and need an easy-to-make drink for guests. All you need for this cocktail is some cognac, orange liqueur and fresh lemon juice.

While the proportions of this cocktail are much debated—as is true for most simple cocktails—we like ours a bit heavier on orange liqueur and the lemon juice. 



Cognac is a type of French brandy which is a liquor made from distilling wine. Cognac can be confusing to buy and often time hard to find. For starters, here in the US, you will likely find cognac behind the register at liquor stores instead of in the aisles. Not only that, there are many grades of Cognac which are determined by how long it is aged:

  • VS or 3 stars = aged 2 years
  • VSOP = aged 4 years
  • Napoléon = aged 6 years
  • XO = aged 10 years

Not surprisingly, as the age increases, so does the price. You don’t need a pricey bottle of cognac for this cocktail Stick to a middle-of-the-road VS or VSOP. 

You can use cognac in all kinds of cocktails including the Classic Champagne Cocktail, a Brandy Alexander, and Between the Sheets (which is essentially a sidecar with rum added). 

Orange Liqueur 

Any triple sec or orange liqueur will do—our favorite is Cointreau. 

Lemon Juice 

As always, when it comes to cocktails, fresh citrus juice is key! Bottled lemon juice just does not add the right flavor. 

How to Make

It could not be easier to make! Add everything to a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice. Shake vigorously to chill then strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Variations on The Sidecar Cocktail

The sidecar cocktail is a classic sour-style cocktail consisting of liquor, citrus juice and sweetener. In a sidecar cocktail the orange liqueur is acting as the sweetener.

Some other variations you can try include a Vodka Sidecar (replace the cognac with vodka), Bourbon Sidecar (replace the cognac with bourbon and add a splash of simple syrup or maple syrup) and Between the Sheets which uses ¾ ounce rum and ¾ ounce cognac in place of the 1 ½ ounces cognac. We also like to add ½ an ounce of limoncello occasionally!

Other Cocktail Recipes to Try

  • If you like a sour cocktail, then you’ve got to make our New York Whiskey Sour. It’s stunning and absolutely delicious.
  • Our Smoky Whiskey Sour is a fun take on the classic whiskey sour with the addition of mezcal.
  • Our Blood Orange Boston Sour is a stunning cocktail for winter. Made with vibrant blood orange juice and a bit of egg white, this cocktail comes out with a lovely ruby hue and a foamy white top.
  • For another sweet and tart cocktail, try our luscious Limoncello Martini.

Sidecar Cocktail

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Yield 1 cocktail
Category Drinks / Cocktails
Cuisine American/French


A classic 3-ingredient sour cocktail recipe! The Sidecar is a classic cocktail recipe everyone should know.


  • 1 ½ ounce cognac VS or VSOP, such as Rémy Martin
  • 1 ounce orange liqueur, such as Cointreau
  • ¾ ounce lemon juice


  • Add everything to a shaker filled halfway with ice. Shake vigorously until well-chilled.
  • Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a lemon twist.


You can shake up to 2 cocktails at a time. We don’t recommend making more in a batch. 


Serving: 1cocktailCalories: 150kcalCarbohydrates: 8gFat: 22gSugar: 8g
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Orange-hued cocktail in a coupe glass with a burnt orange napkin set behind it

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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