The classic Sidecar is made from brandy, triple sec and lemon. For this drink lab we are using Hennessy VS Cognac, Rose’s lemony Sweet and Sour Drink mix, and testing four different triple sec ingredients. Alternately, E&J Brandy works well instead of cognac. If you prefer fresh natural lemon juice over Rose’s but like some sweetness, add simple syrup.
We’ll start with 2 parts Hennessy, 1 part triple sec, and one-half part Rose’s.
Gran Gala is an orange liqueur made with brandy, similar to Grand Marnier made with cognac. As expected, the rich caramel-colored mixture tastes heavy on the brandy/cognac and light on orange. The lemon flavor disappears. The sweetness level is medium.
The Hiram Walker Triple Sec is a clear, sweet orange liqueur with a bright orange flavor. Its syrupy sweetness makes it one of our go-to secondary ingredients for mixed drinks. The Sidecar made with the Hiram Walker is well balanced between the cognac and orange flavors. The lemon pops with bright acidity. The sweetness level is moderately high.
Cointreau orange liqueur from France is a top shelf triple sec that tastes great on its own as well as in mixed drinks. The essence of Cointreau is the hint of bitter orange rind, thus the sweetness is dialed back in this Sidecar. The orange and lemon flavors harmonize nicely.
Patron Citronge mixed with Patron Silver and lime makes a great margarita. For this experiment, the Citronge is dreadful. The hot alcoholic punch is at odds with the cognac and no amount of lemon can save it.