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.
Originally published December 4, 2012