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The Bourbon Sidecar is bright and classy, a variation on the classic sour cocktail that swaps brandy for bourbon. Citrus forward with a spicy whisky finish!

Bourbon sidecar

Love sour cocktails but want to change up your whiskey sour? Try this Bourbon Sidecar! The Sidecar is one of the most classic sour cocktails. Change the brandy to bourbon, and you’ve got a whole new drink! This one trades the fruitiness of brandy for the spicy sweet finish of bourbon whiskey. Here at A Couple Cooks we are whiskey sour fans, but we love changing up our bourbon cocktails with the Sidecar. It’s even more refreshing and citrus-forward than its cousin drink. Here’s how to make it!

What’s in a bourbon Sidecar?

The Bourbon Sidecar is a variation on the classic Sidecar, one of the great sour cocktails. It was invented in the 1920s, and the name likely came from an American army captain who drove around in a motorcycle sidecar. The Sidecar is on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails, meaning that there’s an “official” definition of the drink. Swap out the brandy and you’ve got the bourbon version! Here are the ingredients for a bourbon Sidecar:

  • Bourbon whiskey
  • Cointreau
  • Lemon juice
Bourbon sidecar

How to make a bourbon Sidecar (basic steps)

The bourbon sidecar is very easy to make. It’s even easier than a classic because it skips the sugar rim! It makes a sweet tart drink that’s one of our top bourbon drinks. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Shake in a cocktail shakerShake the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice cubes.
  2. Strain into a glass and add ice. Strain the drink into a cocktail glass. Serve with a lemon twist or peel if you’d like! (Here’s how to make a twist.)

Triple sec vs Cointreau

Triple Sec is often the orange liqueur used in a sidecar. But we recommend using Cointreau! Cointreau has a orange perfume flavor that’s well balanced between bitter and sweet, while Triple Sec can be more harsh.

What’s Cointreau used in? So many great cocktails! Grab a bottle and you can make a long list of Cointreau drinks: the Classic Margarita (and our best Margarita Recipes), CosmopolitanMimosa, and more.

Or, make it a Between the Sheets

Add rum to the bourbon sidecar and it becomes a classic cocktail called Between the Sheets! A spin on the classic Sidecar, it features rum and Cognac together: something that in Prohibition times was thought to be a little naughty. The rum adds nuance to this citrusy drink.

The Between the Sheets a classic cocktail that makes it onto the International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. So this variation is a classic in itself!


Turns out there are lots of drinks that are variations on a theme! The formula of citrus, liquor and sweetener extends further from this bourbon drink to a few of these favorites:

  • The Sidecar is a classic cocktail that features brandy, lemon and Cointreau and a sugar rim.
  • The Vodka Sidecar is citrusy and zingy, staring vodka, lemon and Cointreau.
  • A White Lady is basically a gin Sidecar, featuring gin, lemon and Cointreau.
  • The Margarita is essentially a tequila Sidecar with lime instead of lemon.
  • The Whiskey Sour is another classic bourbon cocktail starring bourbon whiskey, lemon and simple syrup in place of the orange liqueur.
Bourbon sidecar

When to serve a bourbon Sidecar

The bourbon sidecar is a classy and refreshing cocktail that works anytime and any season! It’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Summer patio drink
  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
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Bourbon sidecar

Bourbon Sidecar

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


The Bourbon Sidecar is bright and classy, a variation on the classic sour cocktail that swaps brandy for bourbon. Citrus forward with a spicy whisky finish!


  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) bourbon whiskey*
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Cointreau
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoons) lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup
  • For the garnish: lemon twist or lemon peel


  1. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice and shake until cold.
  2. Strain the drink into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or orange twist.


*Or use 1 ounce rum and 1 ounce bourbon to turn it into the classic Between the Sheets cocktail. 

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Bourbon sidecar

More sour cocktails

Sour cocktails are a family of cocktails with base liquor, sour, and sweet elements. There are all sorts of variations on a good “sour”. Here are some of our favorites:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. i really enjoyed this cocktail. i grew up on whiskey (bourbon) sours — my parents had one every night before dinner and occasionally my dad would give me my very own cocktail in a liqueur glass. this is a really nice variation on that. i’ve had a few sidecars out and they can vary quite a bit from really sour to quite sweet. this one was spot on for me. i made this twice last night — once just as the recipe is written and for the 2nd one i added a dash of Sother Teague’s driftwood bitters which has grapefruit and cinnamon which elevated it to awesome!

  2. Can this be made as a larger batch cocktail? I’m hosting a going away party with about 20-25 people and this sounds great, but I’m a single gal and in addition to the food, I don’t want to be shaking cocktails for my guests.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi! You could make big batch a few hours ahead, but I wouldn’t do a day before since it has fresh lemon juice.

      24x recipe would be:
      6 cups bourbon
      3 cups Cointreau
      1 1/2 cups lemon juice
      1/2 cup simple syrup

  3. The bourbon sidecar was exactly what I was looking for, and you two are such a cute couple! I hope love lasts forever! Thanks!