a Vintage Los Angeles Lifestyle and Fashion Blog


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.

Sidecar Cocktail - Lady by Choice

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
Savoy Cocktail Book - Lady by Choice

 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 (The 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 and the lemon juice that is sold in the cocktail section.  Blech.
Then I found my recipe.  I went back to the original recipe featuring fresh lemon juice.  I just adjusted the proportions to suit me.  Perfection (to my tastes).
Sidecar Cocktail - Lady by Choice
Sidecar Cocktail - Lady by Choice
Sidecar Cocktail - Lady by Choice
Since I wanted a sidecar with my Sidecar, I upped the quantity a little.  This can be served in two small martini glasses:
RECIPE (printable)


This delicious vintage cocktail delights with Cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice.

Course Drinks
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Servings 2 small servings
Calories 181 kcal


  • 1 oz Fresh lemon juice (don't use bottled - about half a large lemon or one whole small lemon should provide 1 oz.)
  • 2 oz Cointreau
  • 3 oz Cognac or brandy (I used St. Rémy VSOP)
  • ice
  • sugar (optional)


  1. Put ice in a cocktail shaker. Add lemon juice, Cointreau and Cognac. Shake. Pour in to two martini glasses and enjoy!  
  2. If you like, you can add a sugar rim to your martini glass by adding a little water to a saucer and a little sugar in a separate saucer. Dip the rim of the martini glass in the water and then in to the sugar before pouring in the Sidecar.  
1-2-3, how simple is that to remember?  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.  Many bars you go to will coat the rim with sugar.  I can’t stand this and always ask for it without, personally.  Why?  Maybe I am just a sloppy drinker, but I find some of the sugar winds up sliding down the side of the glass and I have sticky fingers.
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!
Did you enjoy this cocktail?  Why not try another terrific vintage cocktail, The Aviation.

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