The Bourbon Sidecar: A Modern Twist on a Classic Cocktail

The Bourbon Sidecar: A Modern Twist on a Classic Cocktail

In the realm of cocktails, where creativity and tradition intertwine, the Bourbon Sidecar emerges as a delightful fusion of flavors—a contemporary spin on a classic that combines the rich allure of bourbon with the elegance of citrus and the sophistication of a well-balanced cocktail. 

In this recipe, we'll delve into the history of the Bourbon Sidecar, uncover its secrets, and learn how to craft this exquisite libation that's sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Bourbon Sidecar Recipe 


  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz triple sec or orange liqueur
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup (adjust to taste)
  • Lemon twist, for garnish


  1. Chill the Glass: Begin by chilling a coupe glass in the freezer or by filling it with ice water to cool it while you prepare the cocktail.

  2. Prep the Ingredients: Squeeze the juice of fresh lemon to obtain 1 ounce of lemon juice. If you're using bottled lemon juice, make sure it's of high quality to preserve the integrity of the cocktail.

  3. Mixing the Cocktail: In a cocktail shaker, combine the bourbon, fresh lemon juice, triple sec or orange liqueur, and simple syrup. Add ice to the shaker.

  4. Shake, Shake, Shake: Seal the shaker and shake vigorously for about 10-15 seconds. The shaking chills the ingredients blends the flavors and imparts a pleasant frothiness to the cocktail.

  5. Strain and Serve: Discard the ice from the chilled coupe glass. Strain the shaken cocktail into the glass, allowing the liquid to cascade gently.

  6. Garnish with Elegance: Take a lemon twist and express the oils by giving it a gentle twist over the cocktail. Drop the twist into the glass to infuse a hint of citrus aroma.

  7. Sip and Savor: Your Bourbon Sidecar is now ready to be savored. Take a moment to appreciate the interplay of bourbon's warmth, citrus's zing, and the subtle sweetness of the orange liqueur.

Origins of the Sidecar Cocktail

The Sidecar cocktail has a rich and intriguing history that dates back to the Prohibition Era, a time when creativity and innovation flourished in the world of cocktails. While the exact origins remain shrouded in mystery, both Paris and London lay claim to its creation.

  1. Paris: The Sidecar is often attributed to Harry MacElhone, the founder of the famous Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. This establishment was a popular spot for American expatriates, and it was here that the Sidecar is believed to have been first concocted. MacElhone’s version featured a harmonious blend of cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice.

  2. London: Across the English Channel, another version of the story unfolds. Pat MacGarry, a renowned bartender at the prestigious Buck’s Club in London, is also credited with the invention of the Sidecar. The Buck’s Club was known for its innovative cocktails, and it’s entirely plausible that the Sidecar was born within its esteemed walls.

Despite the ongoing debate about its true birthplace, what’s clear is that the Sidecar emerged during a time of great experimentation in cocktail creation.

Whether in Paris or London, the Sidecar was a product of a desire for new flavors and experiences—a testament to the spirit of innovation that defined the cocktail culture of the Prohibition Era. (source)

The Name ‘Sidecar’

The name ‘Sidecar’ carries with it a sense of mystery and intrigue. Several theories exist regarding its naming:

  1. Motorcycle Sidecar Theory: Some believe that the drink was named after the motorcycle attachment, possibly because the first patron who ordered it arrived in a sidecar.
  2. Leftover Drink Theory: Another theory suggests that the name comes from the practice of serving the leftover drink in a ‘sidecar’ or a small glass on the side.

A Modern Evolution

 As the craft cocktail renaissance swept across bars and lounges, mixologists began experimenting with classic recipes, infusing them with new spirits and flavor profiles.

The Bourbon Sidecar emerged as a modern reinterpretation of the traditional Sidecar, adding depth and complexity with the use of bourbon.

4 Reasons to Try the Bourbon Sidecar

  1. A Symphony of Flavors: The Bourbon Sidecar harmonizes the robust, caramel notes of bourbon with the bright tanginess of lemon juice. The orange liqueur adds a touch of sweetness and complexity, while the simple syrup balances the flavors to perfection.
  1. The Bourbon's Backbone: Bourbon brings a sophisticated depth to the cocktail, elevating it beyond its brandy-based counterpart. The interplay between bourbon's oakiness and the citrus components creates a unique profile that's both satisfying and refreshing.
  1. Elegance Meets Approachability: The Bourbon Sidecar encapsulates the elegance of a classic cocktail while remaining accessible to those who are new to the world of mixology. It's a balanced, well-rounded drink that's equally suited for laid-back evenings and special occasions.
  1. Versatility and Personalization: Like all great cocktails, the Bourbon Sidecar invites personalization. You can adjust the sweetness by modifying the simple syrup quantity, or even experiment with different bourbon brands to explore diverse flavor profiles.

Drinks similar to the Bourbon Sidecar

Already mastered the Bourbon Sidecar and looking to try something similar? Here are three cocktails worth exploring! 

  1. Cherry Amaretto Sidecar: Blending the Sidecar with an amaretto sour, this variation features amaretto, brandy, lemon juice, and fresh cherries. The result is a beautiful deep red color with the perfect balance of tartness and sweetness.

  2. Sidecar with Dried Cherries: A subtle twist on the classic, this version involves microwaving dried cherries with cognac to infuse them with flavor. Combine Grand Marnier, lemon juice, cherry liquid, and cognac in a shaker with ice. Rim the glass with lemon juice and sugar, then strain the cocktail and garnish with marinated cherries on a skewer.

  3. Blackberry Cherry Sidecar: For those who enjoy the classic Sidecar but crave something different, this variation adds fresh blackberries and lemon juice. Muddle the blackberries in a cocktail shaker, then mix in cognac, simple syrup, orange liqueur, and unsweetened cherry juice. It’s a delightful twist on tradition.

The Bourbon Sidecar is more than just a cocktail; it's an experience. With each sip, you're embarking on a sensory journey that's steeped in history yet infused with modern flair.

Whether enjoyed in the company of friends, as a prelude to a fine meal, or simply as a moment of personal indulgence, the Bourbon Sidecar encapsulates the spirit of conviviality and creativity that defines the world of mixology.

So, gather your ingredients, embrace your inner mixologist, and raise a glass to the timeless art of crafting cocktails that awaken the senses and create cherished memories.

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