This twist on the classic sidecar uses pear brandy in place of the usual cognac and pear liqueur in place of triple sec to make for a deliciously dry and crisp, sour-style cocktail. The Pear Sidecar is an elegant and fruity spin on an old French favourite and a gorgeous addition to any mobile bar hire.
Pear Brandy, Pear Liqueur, Lemon Juice, Sugar – Nick N Nora*
*premium glassware pictured, event glassware may differ.
The Pear Sidecar is nearly as classic as its more famous forebear and whilst you’d be forgiven for thinking a fruit-forward version of this 20’s sour might discard the zesty balance and warmth of the original, in favour of sickly sweet artificial flavours, in fact this version has all the poise and depth of its celebrated cousin.
Whilst brandy is most often associated with grapes, the term brandy can actually be applied to any high proof spirit made primarily from fruit, brandy has long been made from a whole host of fruits including apples, to make calvados or applejack as well as from cherries and of course pears. Far from being an artificially flavoured, sweetened liqueur, pear brandy is a rich and complex spirit in its own right and fantastic ingredient to use in place of traditional brandy or cognac.
The Sidecar belongs to the sour family of cocktails, balancing the strong warmth of liquor with the tart acidity of fresh citrus (in this case lemon juice) and the sweetness of sugar or flavoured syrup. The Sidecar and its variants forgo the usual syrup for a granulated sugar rim, this peculiar method of sweetening the cocktail allows the drinker to control how sweet or tart their drink is with each sip.
The Pear Sidecar is an elegant and classic drink served in a Martini glass or coupette and sits beautifully alongside other classic cocktails, for those planning on serving this drink, you may want to consider featuring something like a Corpse Reviver No.2, this gin-based sour is flavoured with floral dry vermouth and a touch of absinthe, giving it a sweet herbaceous finish and an invigorating kick.
Classics like the Sidecar and the Corpse Reviver are short and fairly strong, to balance out a menu featuring these cocktails it’s worth considering serving a couple of longer, low ABV alternatives alongside them. Some great all-season long drinks include the Dark & Stormy, an equally refreshing and warming mix of rum, lime and ginger beer, and the floral Tom Collins, a classic high-ball of gin, lemon, sugar and soda.
If you’re considering serving a Pear Sidecar as part of your menu and want to know more about what drinks could work well with it, be sure to speak to your event organiser or check out some other cognac based, classic and sour-style cocktails from our list.
The history of the Sidecar is spread over three countries, France, England, and America. Its first written appearances came in 1922 in Harry McElhone’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails.
In his 1948 Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, David A. Embury writes:
“It was invented by a friend of mine at a bar in Paris during World War I and was named after the motorcycle sidecar in which the good captain customarily was driven to and from the little bistro where the drink was born and christened.”
Whilst the name of the bartender isn’t given it’s thought that it was created at Harry’s New York bar in Paris. The Sidecar was then later introduced to London by Pat MacGarry at London’s Bucks Club. Dale DeGroff has a different perspective on how the Sidecar was named:
“The word sidecar means something totally different in the world of the cocktail: if the bartender misses his mark on ingredient quantities so when he strains the drink into the serving glass there’s a bit left over in the shaker, he pours out that little extra into a shot glass on the side – that little glass is called a sidecar.”
Myths & Legends
The Sidecar’s invention is very much disputed, it could have been named for an American army captain who frequented Harry’s New York bar in Paris around 1920, using the motorcycle sidecar to take its name.
Others claim it could have been invented in New Orleans, making it one of the better cocktails to appear out of prohibition. The appearance of the Sidecar in written form first arrives in Harry MacElhorne’s Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails and Robert Vermeire’s Cocktails: How to mix them.
This riff on the sidecar is centred around the classic clear French pear brandy, Poire William. Fruit brandies are prevalent across Europe, with almost every country having its own signature style, from Serbian plum slivovitz to Hungarian apricot palinka to Spanish apple calvados. Frances pear brandy or ‘eau de vie’ (water of life) is perhaps one of the most refined and revered of all the European fruit brandies. Esquire’s Jordan Hoffman wrote an in-depth article on fruit brandies, with particular praise for Poire Willam:
“Let me introduce what might be my all-time favorite fruit brandy. In the southern regions of France, like Provence and the place where that girl wandered around and froze in Agnes Varda’s movie Vagabond, you can get a high-proof pear-based liquor known as Poire William. (The William pear is the same as what we call a Bartlett pear.) Now, they serve this in some of the Western regions of Germany, too, but the French take the design level to near Rococo-levels. They wrap the bottles around budding pear trees, so the fruit can grow into the vessel. Then they pour the fermented spirit into these bottles. It makes for an outstanding bit of furniture art—that is if you can find any.”
Jordan Hoffman, Esquire, 2015
Ingredients & Equipment
One of our favourite pear-based cognacs is Xante, this pear liqueur has a base of French cognac which gives it a warm and well-rounded flavour, try using it in combination with Briottet’s Poire William liqueur for the ultimate Pear Sidecar.
- 37.5ml Pear Brandy
- 12.5ml Pear Liquor
- 25ml Lemon Juice
- Demerara Sugar Rim
- Lemon Twist to Garnish
- Hawthorne Strainer
- Fine Strainer
- Mexican Elbow
- Martini Glass or Coupette
- Cubed Ice
- Chill your glass in the freezer or fill it with ice
- Take your Boston glass or small tin
- Using your jigger to measure, add the pear brandy and pear liqueur to the shaker
- Using your Mexican elbow and a jigger to measure, squeeze 25ml of lemon juice and add it to the shaker
- Fill your shaker with cubed ice and seal using your Boston tin or lid
- Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds or until your tin is very cold
- Remove your glass from the freezer or empty it of ice if necessary
- Using a lemon wedge, coat the rim of the glass with lemon juice
- Dip the rim in demerara sugar or sprinkle over to give a sugar rim
- Using your Hawthorne strainer and your fine strainer, double strain your cocktail into your chilled, rimmed Martini glass or coupette
- Garnish with a lemon twist
- Serve and enjoy!
For larger groups of six or more students, we offer the option to take things private. Our classes are fully portable, and we are able to set ourselves up efficiently and professionally in a wide variety of locations and settings across the capital, the UK, and beyond. You name the location, and we’ll endeavour to make it happen.
Give one of our dedicated event organisers a call on 020 8003 7982. They’ll happily talk you through your options, and answer any questions you may have about both our mobile and in-house cocktail making classes.