Boxcar Cocktail Recipe

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Boxcar Nutrition Facts


Fat:0 g

Protein:0 g

Carbohydrates:15 g

Alcohol %:20

Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Boxcar is a classic cocktail that was popular during the Prohibition era in the United States. It's a sweet and sour cocktail that's a variation of the classic Sidecar cocktail. The Boxcar is typically made with bourbon, lemon juice, and triple sec, with a sugar rim for added sweetness. It's a favorite among those who enjoy a balance of sweet and sour flavors in their cocktails.

How Boxcar Tastes?

The Boxcar cocktail is a delightful balance of sweet and sour. The bourbon provides a strong, robust flavor, while the lemon juice adds a tangy sourness. The triple sec and sugar rim add a sweet counterpoint to the sourness, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.

Interesting facts about Boxcar

  • The Boxcar cocktail is a variation of the Sidecar cocktail, which is made with cognac instead of bourbon.
  • The name 'Boxcar' is believed to be a reference to the boxcar trains used during the Prohibition era to smuggle alcohol.
  • Despite its Prohibition era origins, the Boxcar has remained a popular cocktail choice in modern times.



A smooth, rich bourbon with notes of vanilla and caramel is essential here. It's the heart of the cocktail, offering a warm embrace that delightfully contrasts with the sharp citrus. Too little, you lose the spirit's character; too much, you're partying with a man's best friend — whiskey burn. If you swap it for another whiskey, expect a different personality at the party: Rye brings spice, Scotch adds smokiness.

Emma Rose

Lemon Juice

Fresh squeezed is the only way to go — it's like the difference between getting a text versus a handwritten letter. It brightens the drink, gives it that zesty zing. Skimp on it? The drink feels flat. Overdo it? Pucker up, buttercup! Swap with lime juice for a tart twist or orange for a sweeter sip.

Alex Green

Triple Sec

This clear, orange-flavored liqueur is like the friend who lights up the room — it adds sweetness, complexity, and that je ne sais quoi. Less triple sec, and the cocktail might lack character; too much, and it's like sweet orange syrup stumbled into your bourbon. Feel adventurous? Sub with Cointreau or Grand Marnier for a classier kick.

Mary Mitkina


Just a teaspoon to kiss the rim, reminding you life's sweet even when it's stirred up. It’s the frosty sparkle on a winter morning — subtle, but enchanting. Forget the sugar rim, and the cocktail loses its finishing charm. Want to get zesty? Try rimming with a mix of sugar and finely grated lemon zest for an extra citrus pop.

Emma Rose

Recipe. How to make Boxcar Drink

  1. Rim the glass with sugar.
  2. Combine the bourbon, lemon juice, and triple sec in a shaker with ice.
  3. Shake well until chilled.
  4. Strain the cocktail into the sugar-rimmed glass.
  5. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.
  • Make sure to chill your glass before serving for the best experience.
  • Don't overdo it with the sugar rim, as it can make the cocktail too sweet.

Perfect Pairings


  • Spicy grilled shrimp or chicken satay can complement the citrus tones in the Boxcar.
  • Cheese platters with aged cheddar or gouda balance the sweetness and acidity.

Main Courses

  • Barbecue pork or smoked brisket can match the robustness of bourbon.
  • Stir-fried vegetables or a tangy citrus salad can mirror the cocktail's fresh lemon notes.


  • Lemon tart or key lime pie enhances the citrus profile.
  • Rich vanilla custard or crème brûlée provide a sweet contrast to the zesty flavors.

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What you could change in Boxcar

If you don't have bourbon, you can substitute it with cognac or brandy. If you don't have triple sec, you can use any other orange liqueur.

Explore all drinks starting with B here

And of course - twists🍹

Smoky Boxcar

  • Replace bourbon with mezcal.
  • Add a pinch of smoked paprika to the sugar rim.
  • Recipe: Rim the glass with smoky sugar, mix mezcal with the traditional lemon juice and triple sec, shake, strain, and pour. The smoky sweetness pairs with the tang, making you feel like you're enjoying a sunset by a crackling campfire.

Spiced Boxcar

  • Add half an ounce of ginger liqueur.
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon mixed with the sugar for the rim.
  • Recipe: Combine bourbon, lemon juice, triple sec, and ginger liqueur. Serve in a spicy-sweet rimmed glass for a zesty twist. It’s a warm, spicy hug in a cool, crisp package — fall in a glass.

Floral Boxcar

  • Swap triple sec for elderflower liqueur.
  • Add a dash of rose water.
  • Recipe: Shake bourbon, lemon juice, and elderflower liqueur with ice; add the rose water, strain, and sip from a sugar-rimmed glass. This twist brings a garden party to your taste buds, romance in every sip.

In case you forgot basics how to make Boxcar

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Boxcar

What is the best type of bourbon to use in a Boxcar cocktail?

The cocktail can be made with any bourbon, but high-quality bourbons with strong, full-bodied flavors are usually preferred.

Can I substitute the lemon juice with another type of juice?

Traditionally, lemon juice is used in the Boxcar to provide a sour balance to the sweetness of the bourbon and triple sec. However, lime juice can be used in a pinch but might slightly alter the final taste.

What's the difference between Triple Sec and Cointreau?

Both are types of orange liqueurs but Cointreau is a premium brand of Triple Sec and is often considered to have a smoother, more refined flavor.

What can I do if I don't have a cocktail shaker?

If you don't have a shaker, you can stir the ingredients together in a large glass or mason jar with a lid.

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