Not only are the drink’s origins contested, there are two opinions on just how the three ingredients of the sidecar should be combined. The English school dictates bartenders combine two parts brandy with one part each orange liqueur and lemon juice while the French school insists on equal parts of all three ingredients. Fitzpatrick sticks to the classic English recipe, which has, incidentally, always been the one used at Dorothy Parker’s legendary haunt, the Algonquin Hotel. That’s a lot of contention for one simple recipe!
Once the ingredients’ proportions have been settled, it comes time to look at just what types of liquors are best suited to the task. It seems those who are most particular about their brandy insist on using cognac as the base. “Generally, I like to use cognac,” explains Andy Heidel, owner of popular Brooklyn bar The Way Station and author of the upcoming Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy (St. Martin’s Press, fall 2017). “I find [standard] brandy to be a little harsher, and it gives [the cocktail] heavier nose. Cognac I find to be smoother and well-rounded. It sits better with the orange liqueur.”