Pitcher Cocktails: The Grapefruit Sidecar

Twist: Grapefruit. Classic: Brandy.

Grapefruit Sidecar Recipe | A Practical Wedding

This Grapefruit Sidecar is first in our series of big-batch signature cocktails for your wedding, otherwise known as pitcher cocktails. We’ve written about how to prepare these cocktails in big batches well in advance, so review that and meet me back here. Right? Done? Good. As discussed, all cocktail recipes are essentially ratios. For these cocktails, I’m going to give you the recipe for one cocktail (which one should always have, just in case) and then the basic ratio.

We’re beginning with the Grapefruit Sidecar, because as far as I’m concerned the Sidecar is one of those cocktail staples everyone should be familiar with. They are just spirit driven enough to make you feel adult, while still being sweet and sour enough that you don’t have to be someone who drinks your whisky neat (me) to enjoy it. Plus, it has a sugar rim. SUGAR RIM! Even people who only like drinks that taste like candy (Maddie) can enjoy sipping from a sugar rim.

These days, it’s popular to make Sidecars with bourbon. And as much as I’m a whiskey cocktail fan, I prefer my Sidecar made with brandy, as God intended. But bourbon Sidecars are (obviously) pretty good as well. The drink is traditionally made with lemon juice, but to give it that signature cocktail twist, we made ours with grapefruit juice. If you use grapefruit juice, we found that you need to add a little bit of simple syrup, to mellow the grapefruit’s harsh. Go very easy on the simple syrup, as this is not a particularly sweet cocktail. You want just enough so you don’t pucker your mouth. And if you go with a traditional lemon juice sidecar, for goodness sake, leave the simple syrup out.

Grapefruit Sidecar

4 ounces brandy
2 ounce grapefruit juice
2 ounces Triple Sec
.5–1 ounce simple syrup (to taste)

Grapefruit Sidecar Ratio 

4 parts brandy, 2 parts grapefruit juice, 2 parts Triple Sec, 1 part simple syrup (Remember, though, there’s a little fudging to be done with the simple syrup.)

For 100 cocktails, you need

400 ounces brandy
200 ounces grapefruit juice
200 ounces Triple Sec
50–100 ounces simple syrup

Grapefruit Sidecar Recipe | A Practical Wedding
(SPARKLE!) Sugar Rim 

With signature cocktails being served en masse, you generally want to go strategic, if not easy, on the garnishes. But sugar rims are what makes the Sidecar a Sidecar, so here it’s necessary. In these photos we used pearlized cake decorating sugar from Michael’s to create a gold glitter sugar rim, for extra fabulousness (for a mind-blowing range of options—hello glitter stars—head here). Make sure your bar is stocked with lemon to moisten the rim of the glass, and saucers or plates of sugar. With a little practice, even a non-pro bartender should be able to rim a glass with sugar pretty easily. Here is a great tutorial. Prepping a bunch of glasses in advance? Not a bad idea.

With a Twist

Here we garnished the cocktails with a twist of grapefruit (because it makes a pretty picture). But in real life? I’d skip it. If you don’t want to skip it, you create twists with a vegetable peeler (and then you literally twist it with your hands). No big thing, unless you have to do it forty times in a row.


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