Friday, March 25, 2011

How to Build Your Cocktail Bar, Part 4: Brandy

Last week, we looked at tequila and mezcal in building your home bar, and this week, we’re back to classic cocktail staples with brandy. One of Golden Age bartenders’ most-used base spirits, brandy--fruit distillate, most commonly made from grapes--is the foundation for many an essential drink. A flip though a classic cocktail book will quickly reveal its significance, as well as offer up some mixing ideas.

Your starting point should be a Cognac VS, the youngest age designation for these regional spirits; while a more aged spirit can make an excellent cocktail, and we encourage you to try mixing with your favorite VSOP, this is the absolute necessity. We suggest taking a look at Philippe Latourelle Cognac VS. One of our favorite cognac classics is the Sidecar, and though there several traditional variations on it, this is our favorite so far:

2 oz. Cognac
1 oz. Combier Orange Liqueur
½ oz. fresh lemon juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

A less common variety that’s nonetheless a must-have is apple brandy. This category has many variations, from America’s applejack to France’s Calvados, and these spirits have a wide range of delicious mixing applications. Apple brandy can be used in a variety of seasonal warm punches, and it’s got bourbon tied for our favorite addition to hot cider. Named for (and possibly by) a famous early 20th century perjurer, this dusty pink cocktail is a must-mix.

Jack Rose
2 oz. Applejack
1 oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. Grenadine

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Finally, if you’re interested in experimenting, we’d suggest looking to the traditionally-sipped-straight category of eau de vie. Translating to “water of life,” these traditional fruit brandies make flavorful substitutions for vodka.

Happy mixing from DrinkUpNY!