Brandy Mixed Drinks
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Brandy is distilled from fermented grape juice with no other spirits added. It can be made worldwide, but the two most famous types of brandy are both French: Cognac (from about the 17th century) and Armagnac (as early as 1411).
When choosing your brandy, do it wisely as it is less versatile in mixed drinks than other liquors. Spanish brandy tends toward being dark and sweet, and American brandy is typically lighter and fruitier than European brands. Avoid using Armagnac for mixed drinks as it will overpower the other flavors you have worked so hard to keep in balance.
Brandy drinkers usually enjoy it neat from a snifter or on the rocks. Hold the snifter in your hand to warm the brandy is you so desire -- it will release alcohol vapor that will heighten your drinking experience.
But brandy can also be used in cooking, baking, and in mixed drinks. Following are recipes for three classic mixed cocktails using brandy: the Sidecar, the Brandy Alexander, and the Pisco Sour. Each bring their own look and flavor profile to the table. Enjoy!
This perfectly sweet and sour Sidecar recipe may take some time to master, but when properly mixed will provide the drinker with a tasty balance between tart lemon and sweet orange flavors.
- 2 measures cognac
- 1 measure Cointreau
- 1 measure lemon juice
- Lemon twist for garnish
Coat the rim of a chilled cocktail glass with sugar and add three ice cubes. Add all liquids to a shaker and shake with ice. Strain into the glass and drop in a lemon twist to pretty it up.
How to Rim a Cocktail Glass
Brandy Alexander Recipe
Serve a Brandy Alexander after dinner, with coffee. It will provide a gentle counterpoint to the hot drink.
- 1 measure brandy
- 1 measure brown Crème de Cacao
- 1 measure double (heavy or whipping) cream (this is a rich drink!)
- Crushed ice
- Freshly grated nutmeg or a cinnamon stick
Shake the brandy, Crème de Cacao, and cream together with crushed ice, then strain into a pretty cocktail glass. Sprinkle freshly ground nutmeg over the top, or if you prefer, drop in a cinnamon stick instead.
What are Bitters?
Bitters are highly concentrated extract-style flavorings that add that special oomph to cocktails. Once upon a time, they were considered de rigueur at any "real" bar, and have returned to popularity as classic cocktails have made a comeback.
Bitters manufacturers guard their recipes (and with good reason!), but they have been known to include herbs, spices, roots, or fruits. Use them not only in cocktails, but in cooking and baking as well.
Pisco Sour Recipe
Include orange bitters with this drink for an extra flavor burst. Be careful... this drink is a strong one!
- 2 measures Pisco (a dry Chilean/Peruvian brandy)
- 1 measure lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fine sugar
- Dash of orange bitters (optional, but worth it)
- Egg white (optional)
Shake together and strain into glasses (no ice). The egg white is optional, but helps the flavors bind, and without it the drink tends to look like mulled wine.