Like most classic cocktails, the Sidecar has a history swirling with myriad conflicting origin tales and explanations of its name. Since I'm not planning a trip to the Library of Congress any time soon to make a ruling on what's correct (note: "Congress' research arm" does in fact possess a treasure trove of a collection dubbed "American Cocktail Books, 1869-1939"), I'm going to go with my gut and say the Sidecar is so-called because it is so very alcoholic that you should not be the one steering.
Much debate exists about the proportions of this cognac (originally brandy!) concoction. Some mix the cognac (or brandy!), Cointreau (or Curaçao, or Grand Marnier, or triple sec) and lemon juice in equal parts; some in a 2:1:1 ratio, or even a 3:2:1. Another point of contention is sugar. Some bartenders insist the Sidecar must be served in a sugar-rimmed glass, some say pffft. I'm in the pffft camp: I think sugar rims are messy (that's how you get ants!) and unnecessary – if you want a sweeter drink, use the equal-parts recipe or just add some simple syrup. No one wants Dixie crystals dusted all down their shirtfront.
For this Remix I wanted something easy on the palate, with enough softness and sweetness that I could skip the sugar altogether. So I subbed brandy-based Laird's Applejack for the traditional cognac (or brandy!) – Laird's is about 75 percent apple brandy, but has a flavor reminiscent of bourbon. The Laird's is less hot, with a lower ABV than cognac, so I bumped it up with some Domaine de Canton, a ginger-and-cognac liqueur. Then I added Morey Mandarincello rather than the traditional Cointreau – it's a Spanish tangerine liqueur that's basically a novelty buy (sweet stuff in a cute bottle), but it worked here – and finished with Meyer lemon, rather than regular lemon juice. All of these softer, more delicate flavors combine to form a Sidecar that's much less brash – but equally as high-proof, so you may still want to ride on the side, not in the saddle.
2 ounces cognac
1 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce lemon juice
First, prepare the glass: Spread the sugar on a plate, rub the lemon wedge around the rim of a coupe, then dip the wetted glass in the sugar. Combine the cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice in an ice-filled shaker, shake well, and strain into the prepared coupe.
2 ounces Laird's Applejack
1 ounce Morey Mandarincello (or Grand Marnier)
1/2 ounce Domaine de Canton
1 ounce fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice
Combine the applejack, orange liqueur, ginger liqueur and lemon juice in an ice-filled shaker, shake to a 20 count, and strain into a chilled coupe. (For even more dilution and thus a slightly less alcoholic drink, serve over ice in a rocks glass.)