The clocks have turned back, the heating is on and fireworks will soon be lighting-up the dark November skies. Bright orange satsumas and mandarins have made their way into our fruit bowls, as the first sign that the citrus season has begun.  This month, our seasonal apéritif celebrates these vibrant, winter fruits with an orange and brandy-packed French classic; the Sidecar. 

Like many classics, the origin of the Sidecar is much disputed but is thought to have been invented around the end of the First World War. One story suggests the drink was devised to ‘warm-up’ an American Army captain who often travelled to a Parisian bar in the sidecar of his friends motorbike. The bartender mixed warming Cognac with Cointreau and lemon juice and thus, the Sidecar was born. 

There are also disputes over the correct recipe for a Sidecar, dating back as far as the 1930s. Some recipes state equal parts of all ingredients but ours is inspired by Harry Craddock’s recipe in the famous Savoy Cocktail Book, which uses a larger ratio of Cognac. The mix is then sweetened with sugar syrup and shaken over ice, before straining into a Martini glass, garnished with a dried orange wheel. This elegant cocktail is a simple recipe but made with quality ingredients that boast centuries of prestige and evolution.  

Back in 1809, whilst the fires of the French Revolution still smouldered, Emmanuel Courvoisier, along with Louis Gallois decided to open a drinks company on the outskirts of Paris. It was here that the famous Courvoisier brandy was created, and quickly became the drink of choice for France's first Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. 

As the popularity of Courvoisier grew, so did the family's dedication to creating a spirit of exceptional quality and, consequently, they moved their headquarters to the sleepy town of Jarnac, in the heart of the Cognac region in order to regain control over their beloved brandy. 

This dedication to quality has since seen Cognac become a designated area of protection, meaning that strict rules must be followed to be able to call your spirit ‘Cognac’, and for that reason, all Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac.  

Courvoisier VS (Very Special) is made from double distilling white wine ‘on lees’, and then aged in specially crafted oak barrels for a minimum of two and a half years before being meticulously blended by the dedicated master blender, resulting in a complex yet smooth Cognac. 

The story of Cointreau begins in 1849 in Angers, a town in the Loire Valley, which saw the Cointreau brothers open the door to their own distillery. Edouard Cointreau had noticed consumers' interest in the taste of oranges which, at the time, was a rare and precious commodity. He continuously experimented with this universal flavour until he created the perfect blend of bitter and sweet orange peels.   

It was this recipe that gave birth to the original Triple-Sec that is known today as Cointreau, where a crystal-clear liqueur is crafted through the unique distillation of all-natural sweet and bitter orange peels, striking the perfect balance between sweetness and freshness. 

Visit one of our restaurants on a cold evening this November and warm up with a seasonal Sidecar cocktail.  Take a sip and imagine yourself in one of the famous Parisian brasseries of the Jazz Age – arrival in a sidecar optional.