Brandy: Where would the drinking world be without it? (Nowhere anyone would want to be, that’s for sure.)
While the always popular cognac is a type of grape brandy that must be made in Cognac, France, brandy itself is a versatile category of spirits distilled from fermented fruit mash. Common fruits include apples, pears and apricots, to name a few, and brandy can be produced anywhere.
Brandy is often considered a drink to sip neat after dinner or perhaps with a cigar. You’ve seen the tropes of old men in drawing rooms, wearing smoking jackets and swirling their snifters. But this rich spirit can also hold its own in a variety of cocktails, from stiff stirred drinks to refreshing sours.
Give these cognac cocktails a try the next time you want to test these fruity, boozy waters. You just might see the spirit in a whole new light.
Though the eye-opening Corpse Reviver No. 2 may be the most popular choice among the myriad Corpse Reviver cocktails, the No. 1 deserves a very honorable mention. This booze-heavy drink brings together sweet vermouth, cognac and apple brandy for a sweet, slightly fruity drink with enough alcohol to help pack up your hangover and send it moving along. As the name implies, it may even have the power to wake you from the dead.
The next time you’re feeling patriotic, give this cocktail a try. Named after the famous maker (well, purported maker) of the American flag, the Betsy Ross cocktail is made with brandy, ruby port, orange curaçao and a healthy dose of Angostura bitters. The spirits combine to create a deep red-colored tipple that the seamstress would likely have approved of, but it’s tasty enough to win over anyone.
Cognac, Cointreau and fresh lemon juice shaken and served with a sugared rim. That’s the Sidecar, a cocktail believed to be a descendant of the Brandy Crusta. Legend says that it was named for a customer who arrived at the bar in the sidecar of a motorcycle. But bar veteran Dale DeGroff says the drink’s name references the mixture that’s left in the shaker after straining, which can be served in a shot glass on the side. This little treat is called, that’s right, a sidecar.
If you’d like to sample another take on the Sidecar, this twist is ready to pull up alongside what you already know about the classic drink. Dubbed the Side by Sidecar, it updates the original cocktail by adding pomegranate liqueur to the tried-and-true trio of cognac, triple sec and lemon juice. That addition brings a hint of tart fruit to the drink, plus an attractive red hue. Of course, the sugar rim makes every sip a sweet occasion.
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For many, a snifter of brandy replaces the late-night glass of wine after dinner. Why not pair them together? This cocktail combines cognac and merlot for the ultimate grape adventure. To ease the assault, lemon juice and agave are included for a sweet and citrusy touch. Drink this one when you don’t want the night to end.
Dating to the late 1700s, this single-serving, complex-tasting punch is surprisingly easy to assemble. The sweet and spicy cocktail combines rich port, sugar, and water with your favorite brandy. Add a dusting of nutmeg on top, and off you go.
This riff on the Old Fashioned subs brandy for the usual whiskey and is practically the official state drink of Wisconsin. While you can keep your Brandy Old Fashioned as simple as you like (just brandy, sugar, water and bitters), the Wisconsin version typically includes muddled orange slices and cherries, plus a dash of soda or 7UP.
The Brandy Alexander is a creamy, three-ingredient classic that will set your brandy adventures off right. The combination of cream and crème de cacao is not for the sweet-tooth adverse, but this drink has steadily kept up with the times. It’s simple, rich and boozy.