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I think every vintage-minded person, if they imbibe, needs a signature cocktail they can call their own.  But if you skim through the Savoy Cocktail Book, or any cocktail book of the day, you will find a plethora of cocktails, some using liquors you’ve never heard of.  So what is a gal to do?  Especially when many bars now a day have no idea how to make a real vintage cocktail.  I can’t blame them – there are far too many cocktails out there, no one could know every one.  Sure you can order, for example, a Sidecar (which will be my bar recipe today), but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve got something back with either vodka or gin in it.  So, to ensure you can tell a bartender what’s in your drink ‘o choice, or to make it at home, I think you should learn the perfect recipe for your cocktail so you can enjoy it whenever you want.

Lady by Choice - Sidecar cocktail

My first Sidecar was at Musso and Frank’s (see earlier post) and I was in LUV.  It tasted like candy, it was so good.  But when I went home to try it, my recipe didn’t cut it – too sour.  So I went in search of a great Sidecar recipe.  I think I’ve found one.  May not top Musso and Frank’s, but it’s tasty to me.

Lady by Choice - Sidecar cocktail
Lady by Choice - Sidecar cocktail

 Now I should preface this by saying I’m not a hard drinking person.  Yes, I have been known to be caught with a frou frou drink with an umbrella in it that tastes more like juice than the teaspoon of alcohol that may be in it.  So some may say my recipe doesn’t suit their taste – it isn’t stiff enough.  That’s o.k. by me.  I want something to drink, not something I need to get my courage up, take a taste, try not to screw up my face, and lie and say, “Smooth.”
Sidecar Cocktail (Savoy Cocktail Book)
The classic Sidecar recipe from the Savoy Cocktail Book, which was first published in 1930, gives the following recipe:
¼ lemon juice
¼ Cointreau
½  Brandy
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.
As I mentioned, this was o.k.  A little sour for me, so I went in search of something I’d like better.  I had read somewhere on the Web that the Musso and Frank cocktails were made with lime juice.  Now, of course I could just have a drink in the M&F bar, so I could watch them make it, but with a 7-year old, that won’t happen soon.
Lady by Choice - Sidecar cocktail
Lady by Choice - Sidecar cocktail
So since I had some key limes on hand, I thought I would see if that was the trick.  Um, not so much.   Too tart.  Then I asked some bartender friends of mine that if they were to make a drink with lemon or lime juice in it, what would they make it with, figuring maybe that is what a bartender at Musso and Frank’s would do, and they said the bottled stuff.  So I tried the sweet lime juice that is sold in the cocktail section.  Blech.
Then I found my recipe.  Since I wanted a sidecar with my Sidecar, I upped the quantity a little and tried:
Sidecar Cocktail (my version)


  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice (1/2 a lemon should do – don’t cheat and use the bottled stuff)
  • 2 oz Cointreau
  • 3 oz brandy (I used St. Rémy VSOP)
1-2-3, how simple is that to remember?  Sugar the rim of a martini glass, combine all ingredients, shake with ice and pour.  Not bad!  Adding a little more Cointreau than fresh lemon juice really cut the sourness of the drink, but didn’t dilute the alcohol at all.
So I have found a delightful, respectable vintage drink that even ups the alcohol content of the original recipe and still tastes yummy.  So how is that for hair on your chest!

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