Primary mixed by Joseph Santini in the 1850s, this cocktail is even older than the Sazerac, Vieux Carré, and Ramos Gin Fizz. The drink became popular very quickly and even made it into one of the most famous cocktail books of all time: Jerry Thomas' Bartender's Guide from 1862.
And even though a Crusta can be based on many kinds of spirits, the Brandy Crusta quickly became the most popular version of this category. So let's find out how you can create your perfect Brandy Crusta at home.
Angostura bitters or Peychaud's bitters
A proper Brandy Crusta cocktail contains aromatic cocktail bitters. But there's a great variety of bitters, so which ones are the best fit? The two most popular choices are Angostura bitters and Peychaud's bitters. And when taking into account that Peychaud's bitters are also originating in New Orleans, that might tempt you to use them. But I would suggest otherwise.
Opting for Peychaud's bitters in your Brandy Crusta cocktail will by no means ruin the drink. -Actually, they're a pretty good fit. But you will get the best outcomes with classic Angostura bitters because they blend a bit better with the other ingredients. And not only do they mix well with the different flavors, but they appear to create a way deeper flavor profile than the Peychaud bitters will do. -If you tried both versions, I would absolutely appreciate reading your thoughts on this in the comments.
Getting the garnish right
Classic cocktail garnishes are usually not that hard to master. But there are a few exceptions, and, indeed, the Brandy Crusta cocktail is one of them. To get this garnish right, you need quite some steps and time. So I want to guide you through the process of making the two main pieces.
First, the sugar-crusted rim: As the name implies, you want to have a decent crust. For achieving that, it needs to be done hours before the drink is mixed. So you want to think ahead and prep all your glasses in advance. For this, take a slice of orange or lemon and rub it around the rim of your glass. Then dip the glass in white sugar to make it stick to your glass. Then put the glasses aside and let them dry to get a beautiful sugar crust.
The second part is the citrus peel. Most of the time, to make life a bit easier, a long citrus peel (orange or lemon) is carefully curled around the inside of the glass rim. Before drinking from this kind of Crusta, you have to push the peel down in the glass. Otherwise, it won't be possible to sip from it.
However, the correct way to do it is to pick a lemon that is small enough to just fit inside your glass. Then cut the lower and upper end of the lemon off so that it leaves you with a lemon barrel of 3-4 cm in height. Remove the pulp and put this lemon wheel inside your glass. It should act as a watertight extension of your glass. Ideally, you want to use a small wine or sparkling wine glass for this.
Making a Brandy Crusta
Now, grab your favorite Cocktail Shaker and get ready to make one of the most influential Brandy cocktails. But before we get started, just one more piece of info: Although it's named Brandy Crusta, and basically every Brandy does qualify as an ingredient, you might want to stick with Cognac as your spirit base. It just works best in a Crusta and is the classic choice in this case.
- 2 oz Cognac
- 0.5 oz Fresh lemon juice
- 0.25 oz Curaçao
- 0.25 oz Maraschino liqueur
- 0.5 oz Simple Syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Prepare a small wine or sparkling wine glass by rimming it with sugar.
- Make the lemon wheel and put it halfway into your vessel.
- Add all of the ingredients into your cocktails shaker with ice and shake until well chilled.
- Carefully strain the cocktail into your prepared glass.