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World War Wonder: The Side Car

An old favourite, the side car cocktail is steeped in WW1 history.

An old favourite, the side car cocktail is steeped in WW1 history.

Picture Paris during WW1. The bombs of the Central Powers growl from the sky. Your familiar cafés and bars lay in ruins. Life has become cheap.

A man with a penchant for riding in the side car of a motorbike, rolls up to Harry’s, proceeds to add a twist to his cognac. With a dash of orange liqueur and a twist of lemon, the iconic sidecar cocktail is born.

Travelling in the side car


Harry’s: birthplace of the side car cocktail.

The man behind the drink, apart from this brief description, remains a mystery. The cocktail, however, has travelled through the world’s most renowned bars, making drinkers giddy with its smooth bite and old-world appeal.

As with most cocktails, the favoured side car did not receive global notoriety until it was picked up by a swanky bar in London. In 1922, the side car became the flavour of the month at the Buck’s club – a prestigious hub (and yes a gentleman’s club to boot) that wanted to provide its guests with a little more than tweed jackets and cigar smoke. The side car, with its sweet and sour notes, was the perfect drink to up the venue’s ante.

The rules


The beauty about the side car is that you can play loose and fast with the ingredients. So long as you are striking the perfect balance between the sharp notes of your favourite cognac or bourbon, the sweetness of orange and the zest of lemon, the simple mixer is easy to replicate and comes in handy when guests will settle for nothing less than a touch of old-fashioned flavour.

The recipe:

45 Ml of Cognac, Armagnac or Bourbon.

30Ml Cointreau or triple sec

15Ml lemon juice


To Serve:

Chill a cocktail glass and add a lick of sugar to the rim.

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.

Shake well.

Strain and pour into chilled glass.

Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

For those that need a little extra help brushing up on their mixing skills, watch this tutorial:

Cognac, Armagnac or bourbon, what is your drink of choice?