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
LC ISN’T LIFE GRAND?! NOTE
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
I’d never had a Sidecar, but I love cocktails. And I loved the freshness of the lemon in this drink—and, surprisingly, I enjoyed the sugared rim (I normally don’t like “sugary” drinks). I’m not sure adding the marinated cherry juice really added anything to the drink, but munching on the cherries while sipping was pure pleasure!
Does anyone else remember when Rory Gilmore turned 21 and Emily Gilmore threw her a party complete with a signature cocktail named the Rory? If I had a signature cocktail at my next “long past 21″ birthday party, I think I’d request this Sidecar. Good Cognac and Grand Marnier in the same glass! I did have cherry juice and Cognac left in the bowl after warming them, so my recommendation is plan ahead and microwave the cherries and Cognac in the morning or the day before, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the cherries soak up all that goodness until cocktail time!
I love ALL Ina Garten’s recipes, and this one is no exception. I’d never made—or even tried—a Sidecar cocktail before today. We ended up making these (and some Old Fashioneds) for a Prohibition party we hosted. This was the most popular drink by far. It ws very easy to make. The cherry skewers were easy and made the drinks look extra fancy. These were perfect for our party.
I remember my parents used to make these and I thought they were so exotic! After reading about the dried cherries (instead of those artificial red things), I was determined to try this recipe. It was wonderful and worked for me as written. I had barely a teaspoon of the marinated cherry liquid. I think if you had nice, fresh, plump dried cherries this would not be a problem. This drink was a hit at a small cocktail party for 6 of us. I did, however, catch one guest hoarding all the cherries. My advice is to marinate more! Great recipe!
I love coming home from work Friday afternoons and taking the time to make a nice cocktail—or, in this case, two of them. I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoyed both sidecars myself…about an hour apart. This recipe makes a fine drink with a balanced flavor and a nice kick. Just make sure to sugar the rim of the glass as the recipe instructs. Since the recipe does not include any sweetener, the sugar on the rim is essential for the balance of the drink. The cherries add a nice depth and interesting texture and taste to the drink. They also make for a beautiful seasonal garnish this time of year. The recipe makes more cherries than you need, but that isn’t an issue—just nibble on them. After microwaving the cherries, you’re left with about 2 or 3 teaspoons liquid. I served my drinks in a well-chilled cocktail glass straight up.
Quite delicious. I loved the tartness the lemon juice adds, but quite honestly, the dried cherries (after absorbing the Cognac) are like a special treat. I think I could get used to making those all by themselves. That being said, there was some Cognac left after microwaving the cherries. They did absorb most of the booze, but the little that was left didn’t really add any “cherry” flavor. I’m not sure that was the intention, or if that method was just to make the cherries amazing. Last, but certainly not least, the sugared rim on the glass is a must! Really makes the drink special. I prefer this drink served on the rocks.
Originally published December 04, 2012