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Bourbon Sidecar: A Tasty Twist

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.

Lemon Sidecar with Sugar Rim and Lemon Twist
Image: ©2foodtrippers

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?

Lemon and Bourbon Sidecar
Lemon juice add a bright but sour element to the Sidecar cocktail. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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.

Bourbon Sidecar with Lemon Twist and Sugar Rim
Adding bourbon to the classic Sidecar is a great option for fans of the Kentucky liquor. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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

Bourbon Sidecar Cocktail Next to Green Door
The Sidecar is a cocktail with a mysterious past. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Depending on what you read and choose to believe, the Sidecar cocktail was either invented in London or Paris. We choose to believe that it invented in Paris at Harry’s Bar which, if true, makes the Sidecar a French cocktail.

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?


Bourbon Sidecar Ingredients by Tiles
The only required ingredients to craft a Bourbon sidecar are bourbon, orange liqueur, lemon juice and ice cubes. If you’re wondering about the ice cubes, they’re in the freezer instead of this photo. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

The Bourbon Sidecar fits into our lazy mixology playbook with an incredibly short list of ingredients that includes:

  • Bourbon
  • Orange Liqueur
  • Lemon Juice
  • Ice Cubes (for shaking)
  • Sugar (for rim)
  • Lemon Twist (garnish)
Cointreau and Four Roses Bourbon Bottles
We used these bottles of Cointreau and Four Roses Bourbon to craft our Bourbon Sidecar. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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.

Discover our favorite bourbon cocktails.

Cointreau is our go-to orange liqueur for cocktail recipes that call for orange liqueur or triple sec as well as for some that don’t. We like Cointreau’s balanced flavor. Ironically, it also has a 40% ABV.

Discover our favorite Cointreau cocktails.

How to Craft a Bourbon Sidecar Cocktail

Bourbon Sidecar Mis en Place
You don’t need many bar tools to craft our Bourbon Sidecar recipe. We just use a jigger, strainer and shaker. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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. The only required tools for this recipe are a jigger, cocktail strainer and Boston shaker. We already have all three in our home bar. Hooray!

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 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.

Creating Bourbon Sidecar Sugar Rim
Coating a martini glass rim with sugar is both easy and fun. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

The first step in our Bourbon Sidecar recipe is to measure the bourbon, orange liqueur and lemon juice. We do this with a jigger but you could use a mini angled measuring cup instead.

Buy a Japanese jigger from Amazon if you need a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade. That’s what we did.

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!

Pouring Bourbon into Bourbon Sidecar Shaker
Our recipe calls for two ounces of bourbon, one ounce of orange liqueur and a half ounce of fresh lemon juice. We use a jigger to properly measure each. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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.

Buy two Riedel martini glasses from Amazon.

Straining Bourbon Sidecar into Glass
After straining the Bourbon Sidecar into a glass, the only remaining step is to add an optional lemon peel garnish. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

The final step is to garnish your cocktail with a lemon twist.

Garnished Bourbon Sidecar
Our Bourbon Sidecar cocktail recipe takes just five minutes. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Pro Tip
Peel the lemon skin before you squeeze juice from the lemon.


Bourbon Sidecar on Red Keyboard
This recipe creates our favorite Bourbon Sidecar. Cocktail imbibing musician not included. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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:

  • Craft an extra sour Bourbon Sidecar by adding extra lemon juice.
  • Craft a sweeter Bourbon Sidecar by adding a splash of simple syrup.
  • Replace the bourbon with cognac and craft a classic Sidecar cocktail.
  • Replace the bourbon with cognac and add rum to craft a Between the Sheets cocktail.
  • Replace the bourbon with tequila and the lemon juice with lime juice to craft a Margarita.

Discover 10 essential bar tools for the home mixologist.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the ingredients in a Bourbon Sidecar?

Bourbon, Orange Liqueur, Lemon Juice and Ice Cubes

What’s the best whiskey to use in a Bourbon Sidecar?

You should use your favorite bourbon in this cocktail recipe. We typically use Four Roses but any bourbon will work just fine.

Is the Bourbon Sidecar shaken or stirred?

The Bourbon Sidecar is shaken, not stirred.

What type of glass is best for the Bourbon Sidecar?

We like to serve this cocktail in a small martini glass but you could use a coupe glass instead.

Bourbon Sidecar with Ingredients
We love this Bourbon Cocktail recipe. It’s a winner. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Did you craft this cocktail? If so, please rate the recipe below.

Bourbon Sidecar with Lemon Twist and Sugar Rim
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4.38 from 16 votes

Bourbon Sidecar Recipe

Simultaneously sweet and tart, the Bourbon Sidecar is classic cocktail that you'll want to drink again and again.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Drink
Cuisine: Cocktail
Servings: 1
Calories: 221kcal


  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • ½ ounce lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • granulated sugar (optional for sugar rim)
  • lemon peel (garnish)
  • ice cubes (for shaking)


  • Combine bourbon, Cointreau and lemon juice 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.

Pro Tips

  • 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.

Estimated Nutrition

Calories: 221kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.04g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 24mg | Fiber: 0.04g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 0.1mg
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About the Authors

Daryl and 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. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.


Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

We purchased the ingredients and tools used to craft this cocktail.

Original Publication Date: February 26, 2021

Recipe Rating


Wednesday 29th of September 2021

Lemon juice is listed as an ingredient but not in instructions.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Thursday 14th of October 2021

Thanks for your feedback. We have updated the recipe card accordingly.

Margaret Myers

Friday 26th of February 2021

Your recipe says Gin. I thought it was a recipe for a Bourbon Sidecar. Total lack of attention. Boo.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saturday 27th of February 2021

Thanks for alerting us to the error since, as noted in the article, we do NOT recommend using gin in this cocktail.


Friday 26th of February 2021

Probably a typo, but I noticed that the recipe has gin listed, not burbon. Looking forward to trying it though

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saturday 27th of February 2021

Definitely a typo and fixed. Thanks for the heads up and happy drinking!

Doug Loverro

Friday 26th of February 2021

Daryl & Mindi

Great article/recipe, until I got to the very end where you say under no circumstances to use gin, but then have the actual recipe mis-printed specifying "gin" instead of "bourbon". This is what happens when you mix Freud with liquor :-)


Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saturday 27th of February 2021

I (Mindi) clearly had gin on the brain since I even crafted this bourbon drink with gin the first go-around as alluded in the article. I have fixed the error and appreciate you alerting us to it. Now I'm wondering what Sigmund would think of this slip...

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