The Right Way To Serve A Martini Sidecar

It's not very common to see it these days, but cocktail bartenders used to serve their drinks with a sidecar. If you ask for a sidecar now, you'll likely get handed the classic cocktail of the same name. But a sidecar also refers to something entirely different. Although bartenders measure their ingredients, either with a jigger or through dedicated practice, there's almost always some left over after the cocktail glass is full and the garnish has been placed. To serve a martini with a sidecar means you get your full martini with a tiny carafe on the side filled with the leftovers. Normally, a bartender would just toss the remains out along with the ice.

If you want to serve a martini sidecar, there's one very important thing to keep in mind: You have to keep it cold. If you just pour the sidecar into a carafe and set it next to the main drink, the person enjoying the martini is going to feel rushed to gulp it down before it gets warm. That's not a position you want to put anyone in.

An easy solution is to place the carafe in a glass of ice, keeping the surface of the carafe in contact with the ice. If ice alone isn't accomplishing this, add a splash of water to the glass and then set the carafe inside. This way, you know the ice water is making full contact. 

The art of the sidecar

Although it's far from common, finer cocktail bars, like Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle Hotel, are starting to bring the sidecar back for the touch of added elegance it offers. The practice of serving drinks alongside one is from a bygone era, having reached peak popularity in the 1940s and 50s. The 21st century has been marked by a cocktail renaissance, which can be credited in part to New York City's bar scene, and folks' willingness to put down serious cash for luxe mixed drinks. So it's no surprise to see Big Apple bars at the head of the sidecar's return.

The contents of your sidecar will be identical to the type of martini you order. If you order a dirty gin martini, that's what the sidecar will be. If you order an appletini, you'll get an appletini sidecar. There are no extra ingredients added. But even still, you aren't likely to have good luck getting accommodated ordering a martini in this precise way, as — to be done right — the bar needs to have the specific glass and metalware to give it a proper presentation.

Anywhere folks are willing to pay for red-carpet treatment, bars are soon to follow. So if you're interested, put a bug in your bartender's ear, and maybe they'll hunt down these accouterments for your next night out.