The Bourbon Sidecar cocktail takes the classic Sidecar to new heights by replacing cognac with bourbon. Follow our easy Bourbon Sidecar recipe and craft one at home in just five minutes.
Our exploration of bourbon cocktails has taken a twist. A lemon twist to be exact.
The bright flavors in the classic Sidecar speaks to us as we stand on the cusp of a new season. While winter hasn’t let go, we see glimmers of spring with each day lasting a bit longer than the last.
But, with a lingering chill in the air, bourbon speaks to us as well. Hence our decision to craft a Bourbon Sidecar instead of a classic Sidecar.
What Is a Sidecar?
The Sidecar joined achieved classic status in 1948. That’s when David A. Embury included the sour bourbon martini in the short list of cocktail classics featured in his The Fine Art of Mixing. The Daiquiri, Jack Rose, Manhattan, Martini and Old Fashioned round out this list.
Buy a copy of The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks from Amazon.
The classic Sidecar recipe is both simple and sophisticated with just three ingredients – cognac, orange liqueur and fresh lemon juice. While some mixologists use brandy or Armagnac instead of cognac, we decided to craft ours with Kentucky bourbon.
We’re not the first to craft a Sidecar cocktail with bourbon and we certainly won’t be the last. Nor will the first Bourbon Sidecar be our last Bourbon Sidecar. The tasty tipple has earned a permanent spot on our at home cocktail rotation.
History of the Sidecar
Depending on what you read and choose to believe, the Sidecar cocktail was either invented in London or Paris. In other words, the Sidecar’s point of origin is a mystery.
We can at least be certain that the Sidecar was invented in the early 1920s soon after Prohibition ended and that it was named after a motorcycle sidecar. Or was it?
Let’s just say that we’re creating our own Sidecar history and leave it there. As of now, we have two cocktails down and many more to go.
Bourbon Sidecar Ingredients
The Bourbon Sidecar fits into our lazy mixology playbook with an incredibly short list of ingredients that includes:
Optional garnishes include sugar for the rim and a lemon twist. We use both in our recipe.
Selecting the right liquor is critical in a cocktail with just a few ingredients. We chose to use Four Roses Bourbon and Cointreau to craft our Bourbon Sidecar.
Four Roses is a great cocktail bourbon since its flavors are relatively mild with hints of both vanilla and caramel. It’s also one of the more affordable bourbons produced in Kentucky and has a 40% ABV, the lowest possible ABV for Kentucky bourbon.
How To Craft a Bourbon Sidecar Cocktail
We didn’t realize how easy it is to craft a Bourbon Sidecar until we crafted one at home. Not only is the ingredient list short, but no special tools or gadgets are required.
We like to coat the rim of our martini glass with sugar when we craft Bourbon Sidecars at home. This extra step adds a sweetness to the sour bourbon cocktail that we prefer.
If you’ve never created a sugared rim before, rest assured that it’s easy. You just need to rub the glass rim with a lemon wedge before dipping the glass onto a plate topped with sugar. You’ll want to rotate the glass a few times until it’s properly coated.
If you’ve chosen to sugar your glass rim, set the glass aside. It’s now time to craft the cocktail.
As you measure each liquid, pour it directly into your cocktail shaker. We use a Boston shaker which has literally changed our mixology life for the better. It’s as easy to use as it is to clean and it doesn’t leak. Hooray again!
Buy a Boston shaker from Amazon if you need a shaker or if you’re ready for an upgrade. It’s a lazy mixology game changer.
The second step is to add ice to the shaker and vigorously shake the drink until it’s both chilled and combined. After about 30 seconds, use a strainer to strain the liquid into a cocktail glass. We use a small martini glass for this cocktail though a coupe glass would work equally well.
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The final step is to garnish your cocktail with a lemon twist. If you squeezed fresh lemon juice, you can quickly peel the skin from that same lemon.
Bourbon Sidecar Variations
After you follow our Bourbon Sidecar recipe, you may be satisfied to drink this version forever. However, if you’re keen to experiment, we recommend starting with the following options:
Do NOT replace the bourbon with gin. We (mistakenly) tried this variation and were not pleased with the result
Bourbon Sidecar Recipe
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 1 ounce dry cointreau
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- ice cubes
- lemon twist for garnish
- Combine bourbon, lemon juice and cointreau in a shaker.
- Add several ice cubes and vigorously shake are chilled and mixed.
- Strain into a martini glass. (Coat rim with sugar in advance if you choose to add the optional ingredient.)
- Add a lemon twist as garnish.
- We like to use a martini glass for this recipe but a coupe glass would work too.
- As an option, you can coat the glass rim with sugar to cut the drink's tartness.
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Thirsty for More Cocktails?
Try our Absinthe Frappe, Amaretto Sour, Americano, Aperol Spritz, Aviation, Bee’s Knees, Bijou, Black Russian, Boulevardier, Brandy Alexander, Brown Derby, Caipirinha, Clover Club, Creamsicle, Cuba Libre, Daiquiri, Diplomat, Dirty Shirley, Eggnog, Emerald, Espresso Martini, French 75, G+T, Garibaldi, Gibson, Gimlet, Gold Rush, Grasshopper, Hemingway Daiquiri, Hugo Spritz, Hurricane, Irish Coffee, Kir Royale, Last Word, Manhattan, Maple Bourbon Smash, Martinez, Mauresque, Milk Punch, Mint Julep, Mojito, Moscow Mule, Mudslide, Negroni, New York Sour, Old Fashioned, Paper Plane, Pimm’s Cup, Pink Lady, Porto Tonico, Ramos Gin Fizz, Revolver, Sazerac, Spicy Margarita, Tipperary, Tomate, Vieux Carré, Whiskey Ginger, Whiskey Sour, White Lady and White Russian cocktail recipes.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: February 26, 2021