First mixed by Joseph Santini in the 1850s, the Brandy Crusta is even older than the Sazerac, Vieux Carré, and Ramos Gin Fizz.
The drink became popular very quickly and has made it into one of the most famous cocktail books of all time: Jerry Thomas' Bartender's Guide from 1862.
The Crusta is also considered a precursor of the Sidecar and the Margarita. Mainly due to its iconic way of garnishing with the sugar-crusted rim and citrus peel.
Ingredients of the Brandy Crusta
And even though a Crusta can be based on many kinds of spirits, the Brandy Crusta is the most popular version of this category.
As with most Brandy cocktails, Cognac is the way to go. The full-bodied French quality Brandy works exceptionally well in mixed drinks and makes for a superb base.
Apart from Cognac, the Brandy Crusta recipe called for freshly squeezed lemon juice, Curaçao, Maraschino liqueur, simple syrup, and cocktail bitters.
Angostura bitters or Peychaud's bitters
A good Brandy Crusta cocktail contains aromatic cocktail bitters. But since there's such a great variety of bitters, you may wonder which ones are the best fit.
The two most popular choices are Angostura bitters and Peychaud's bitters. And with Peychaud's bitters also originating in New Orleans, one might be tempted to use them. But I prefer Angostura's Aromatic bitters.
Classic Angostura bitters create a way deeper flavor profile than the Peychaud bitters will do. But having said that, Peychaud's bitters also work fine in a Brandy Crusta cocktail.
Getting the Crust right
Classic cocktail garnishes, like citrus peels, cherries, or flower garnishes, are usually not that hard to master. But there are a few exceptions, and 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:
You want to have a decent crust. To achieve that, you need to start a few 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 citrus peel
Most of the time, to make a barkeeper's life a bit easier, a long citrus peel (orange or lemon) is carefully curled around the inside of the glass rim.
Before drinking this kind of Crusta, you 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 with a size just small enough to fit the inner diameter of 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.
Now, get your garnish ready, grab your favorite Cocktail Shaker and make one of the most influential Brandy cocktails.
- 1 Jigger
- 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
- caster sugar for garnish
- lemon peel for garnish
- Prepare a small wine or sparkling wine glass by rimming it with sugar.caster sugar
- Make the lemon peel and put it halfway into your glass.lemon peel
- Add all of the ingredients into your cocktails shaker with ice and shake until well chilled.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
- Carefully strain the cocktail into your prepared glass.
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