Product Choice is Important – The Sidecar Cocktail

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I recall one of the first times I went to the liquor store to “stock my liquor cabinet”. It was a tad daunting to try to make sense of all of the different bottles of booze and understand what I was needing. And the price range, wow! At the time, I didn’t really have any true knowledge of brands and quality variations, but I knew enough to realize that just because there might be a brand that I had heard of through their marketing efforts, didn’t necessarily mean it was a good product. Since there were several different products I needed to buy, and a budget to deal with, the $20+ products became less and less appealing. Knowing that with wines, price wasn’t really a useful measure of the quality, I assumed the same could be true with spirits, and so I tried to be selective on finding “bargain” priced bottles. At first, I thought it was just the recipes I was using which were making my cocktails lackluster. Thankfully I did the right thing when it came time to replace a depleted bottle, I intentionally bought a different brand, and since I only needed to buy one or two on this visit, I was able to buy something a little more expensive. My cocktails quickly improved.

This isn’t to say that all of the good spirit choices have to be expensive ones. There are lower-cost products that you can use which can make cocktails as good, if not better than, their costlier counterparts. And sometimes, even if a more expensive product will make a better cocktail, is the difference noticeable enough to warrant the expense?

Courvoisier, is a great cognac. Their VSOP costs, say $45 per bottle, but their VS is more like $25. A sidecar made with the VSOP will be a better drink, but will it be twice as good? If you were to compare them side by side, you’d probably pick the VSOP as the better drink, but you’d still really enjoy the VS as well. So in this case there is nothing wrong with going with the less expensive Courvoisier VS.

Cointreau is a triple sec, and most recipes for a Sidecar simply list “Triple Sec” as an ingredient. Cointreau costs, say $34 a bottle, while you can get a bottle of triple sec for around $10. The difference here however can be quite amazing. Not only would you clearly identify a Cointreau Sidecar in a side-by-side comparison, but you might be hard-pressed to finish the one made with triple sec after this discovery.

So selecting products you are going to use in your cocktails, realize that your choices will make a difference.

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2 oz Cognac
1 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice

Shake all ingredients with ice.
Strain into a cocktail glass with a half sugared rim.


Ms Black says:

love the law of diminishing returns reference.. like im back in micro econ class haha

Dodecalypse says:

nice bowling shirt friend

Kevin herenow says:

You did not shake it hard enough or long enough, but nice try.

PhilyCheese says:

james may?

Josh Gwynne says:

Most passive shaking style in the world. No problem with that, just unique.

Harry Eaton says:

I try to use good to great quality stuff, but look out for the offers where you can get the good stuff for nearly as cheap as the budget stuff. Some good quality gins really benefit the flavour of martinis.

Noirling says:

Where are your ears, brah?

ib9rt says:

The Sidecar is one of my favorites, though for my taste I like a little more lemon juice. I prefer a touch more bite and a touch less sweetness to my drink.

sisbrawny says:

Which level of quality is appropriate for various types of drinks? How do we determine the right level of quality for doing shots vs. cocktails vs. sipping neat? 

tom jens says:

shouldn’t you double strain this cocktail? has lemon juice… same as you should double strain white lady, kamikaze, margarita, daiquiri.

Karen Simmonds-Amyotte says:

Interesting and important – studying distilling knowledge and this week this video will defintely help me out with my assignment.

mike bott says:

good sidecar vid!

Pukkajob says:

Looks good! But that was a pathetic shake.

David Hicks says:

I use Camus VSOP (it is the only Camus they carry) or the one that you used.  I use Harlequin Orange Liqueur.  I always use fresh Lemon Juice.  No sugar.  Love your videos and I have learned a lot from them.  Thank you.

Alexander says:

One of the most unimaginative shakes I’ve seen on youtube. For someone preaching on how to do cocktails right you would think he would come up with a good shake or maybe copy someone else who has it down. Hess, check out some of the Japanese bartenders and study their shake. It will go a long way in your cocktails.

Garlic Girl says:

Great lessons! Thank you!

isaac romayor says:

Where can I find the glassware you had the lemon juice in? What’s it called? Thanks for all your videos

Steve the Bartender says:

Will have to try this particular recipe – sounds like it would be quite sweet? It definitely looks a darker shade compared to what I usually make.
Thanks again for the great vids Robert!

Nessa says:

i did a whole load of research in prep for my 21st and i decided to make this my first (legal) drink. i’m usually a wine person, so i have no idea about other spirits, and i figured this would be a good beverage to bridge the gap. so here’s my question: how would i order this at a bar? would i ask for “courvoisier vs and cointreau sidecar”? any help or recommendations would be greatly appreciated 🙂

Osc1llateW1ldly says:

thank you. From now on I’m only gonna use very fresh lemon juice, Cointreau and of course Luis XIII…

David Amaro says:

did you shake instead of stir because the lemon juice is considered cloudy, or is one of the other ingredients considered cloudy?

hawkatro says:

Never tried a Sidecar, but I will tonight. Luckily I have plenty of Cointreau and a Grönstedts VS. Cheers!

John Batchler says:

how about bottle juice

Isabella says:

I just made this following your instructions ( with the sugar rim) and it’s fantastic! Thanks for the great information.

zachariahm10 says:

nice shake…not

Jac the Sipper says:

Dekuyper has recently released a high end Triple Sec to compete with Cointreau called ’03’. It is 40% abv and tastes great; very similar to Cointreau at almost half the price. If you can find it in your area I would highly recommend picking some up and testing it out. 

Savored Not Slurped says:

Raynal VSOP, or another quality VSOP or XO non-cognac brandy works beautifully. Cognac is great, but there’s no need to stretch your budget for brandy from a specific region made with specific grapes when you can get better brandy at a lower price if you look at other ones. If you’re not getting at least a VSOP cognac, get a cheaper, older brandy.

Denys Momot says:

Disagree, cheap vodka, tequila, rum, gin and triple sec will have the same taste and no one will tell you the difference. However, brandy, whiskey and dark rum are different you got to be careful because makers usually add flavors and spices.

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