Sidecar Cocktail

This sidecar cocktail from the Barefoot Contessa is just the right mix of lemon juice, Cognac, and Grand Marnier.

I’ve tried all kinds of sidecar cocktail recipes but none of them really hit the spot. They’re either too sour from the lemon, too sweet from the orange liqueur, or too harsh from inexpensive brandy. But I’ve always been intrigued because they seem to be a second cousin to my favorite drink—the whiskey sour. I decided to tackle the recipe (I know, my job is grueling) and came up with my version, which I think hits all the right notes. I use good but obviously not the best Cognac.–Ina Garten


Cognac, Grand Marnier, and the lilt of lemon. Isn’t life grand? If you hesitated before responding to that question, we think you’ll change your tune after a sip or three of this stiff cocktail. It’s traditionally made with an equal pour each of the aforementioned components, but here it takes on a decidedly more Cognac-centric rendition that’s not for the faint of heart—nor the slight of tolerance.

Sidecar Cocktail

A highball glass with a sugared rim is filled with sidecar cocktail, ice cubes and a dried cherry garnish.
This sidecar cocktail is just the right mix of lemon juice, Cognac, and Grand Marnier.
Ina Garten

Prep 10 mins
Total 10 mins
2 drinks
482 kcal
5 from 1 vote
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  • 3 ounces (1/3 cup) fresh lemon juice plus the juice of 1 lemon for sugaring the glass rims
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) good Cognac (VS but not VSOP)
  • 3 ounces (1/3 cup) Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • Ice


  • Pour the juice of 1 lemon into a shallow bowl and place the sugar on a small plate. Dip the rim of 2 highball or martini glasses first in the lemon juice and then in the sugar. Set them aside to dry.
  • In a small bowl, combine the dried cherries with 2 ounces (1/4 cup) Cognac and microwave on high for 60 seconds. (Alternatively, heat the Cognac in a small saucepan until it comes to a bare simmer. Remove from the heat, add the cherries, and set aside to plump.)
  • Combine the 3 ounces lemon juice with the remaining 4 ounces Cognac, the Grand Marnier, and 1 teaspoon marinated cherry liquid. Fill a cocktail shaker 3/4 full with ice and pour in the cocktail mixture. Shake the mixer for a full 30 seconds (it’s longer than you think!) and strain into the prepared glasses, whether straight up or over ice. Thread 3 or 4 marinated cherries onto each of 2 skewers. Serve each drink with a skewer of cherries.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1drinkCalories: 482kcal (24%)Carbohydrates: 53g (18%)Protein: 1g (2%)Fat: 1g (2%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Sodium: 7mgPotassium: 59mg (2%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 48g (53%)Vitamin A: 540IU (11%)Vitamin C: 16mg (19%)Calcium: 17mg (2%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

The sidecar is one of those cocktails that has the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and alcoholic punch. Personally, I like to skip the sugared rim, but I think most will find it to be a nice touch. Feel free to substitute any orange liqueur, such as Cointreau, for the Grand Marnier. The cherry garnish here isn’t traditional, as far as I know, but think about it…dried cherries are pretty darn good on their own, so heat them in brandy, then let them marinate in a sidecar, and you might find yourself making the drink for the cherries alone.

I normally don’t drink a lot of hard liquor, but this drink was delicious. It was a perfect balance of sweet and sour and the dried cherries were a nice touch. I must’ve had really small dried cherries because there were a lot left over after I threaded 4 on each skewer and there was also a bit of liquid left over after I microwaved the cherries. But all in all, it was a yummy drink and more than enough for 2 people.

Originally published December 4, 2012


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  1. 5 stars
    This is an excellent recipe for a wonderful cocktail. If you’re in the throes of your own cocktail epiphany, the Sidecar is a great place to start: refreshing, not too sweet, simple to make, and somewhat sophisticated all at once. I know that this is blasphemy, but if you’re just starting out and want to dip your toes in the wonderful world of Sidecars, using Triple Sec isn’t a bad idea as it’s 4 times less expensive. Adding Cointreau or Grand Marnier does make this cocktail better, yet it won’t make it 4 times better…and since they have 3 times the alcohol than Triple Sec, you will be hammered after just two of these delightful concoctions. Either way you make it, this is a great drink. Enjoy!

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