Add A Splash Of Apple Cider To Give Your Next Sidecar Cocktail Fall Vibes

Bartenders love to pair apple cider and bourbon, but that's only the beginning of the autumnal cocktails to quench our fall fever. Next time you whip up a sidecar, consider adding a slug of apple cider into the mix.

The traditional sidecar cocktail combines cognac, triple sec or Cointreau, and lemon juice with a sugar rim. It is believed to have gained popularity in the 1920s, so folks have been enjoying this Classic Cocktail Hall of Famer for a century. This mature beauty doesn't need any fixing, but if your fall fever is kicking in, give the sidecar a seasonal makeover with the quick addition of some cider.

This cozy digestif boasts both complexity and dimensionality, with tart orange liqueur, bright acidic lemon, deep cognac, and sweet herbaceous apple cider. Finish with a few drops of spiced Angostura bitters to round out the profile, combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice, and strain into a chilled coupe glass. For autumnal bonus points, upgrade the classic sidecar sugar rim to a cinnamon-sugar rim for your apple cider version. Sidecars are typically garnished with an orange twist, which would also work here, but feel free to turn up the fall flair with an apple slice, cinnamon stick, whole clove, star anise, or brandied cherry.

Introducing the cide-car

To keep the flavor profile balanced, opt for a high-quality apple cider straight from a local orchard, if possible. These tend to be less sweetened than store-bought ciders, which also work. Just bear in mind that if you use a sweeter cider to build your cocktail, you might want to adjust your other ingredient ratios to maintain the sidecar's trademark tart dryness (i.e. more Cointreau and lemon juice).

Just like the cider you select, your cognac also makes a difference in the overall flavor of your cide-car. For a more traditional taste, cognacs by Hennessy, Pierre Ferrand, Camus, and Rémy Martin all offer an even, balanced profile and standard price range. If you feel like splurging, your cide-car would benefit from Bache-Gabrielsen cognac, which is aged in American oak barrels for a buttery nutty finish. To really lean into the fall vibes, you could use Argonaut Fat Thumb Brandy with baked apple cobbler, nutmeg, and clove notes, plus a lower 86-proof strength for even more accessibility.

Balance is the name of the game for any successful cocktail, but particularly so when it comes to the sidecar. With two of the three classic ingredients being lemon and orange, the sidecar easily runs the risk of being overpoweringly sour. A discerning bartender will know how to walk the line, but for beginner home mixologists, the addition of apple cider adds a complementary sweetness that can help you achieve a knockout sidecar on the first try.