Brandy is a beautiful and aromatic spirit. When thinking of Brandy, you maybe imagine elderly men sitting at Gentlemen’s clubs sipping and swirling Brandy in their snifters. And indeed, Brandy is a great liquor to enjoy neat and unchilled. But Brandy is far more than that, and you might be surprised that some of your favorite spirits belong to the Brandy family as well. In this article, you find an overview of the different types of Brandy and beautiful cocktails and drinks you can mix with this spirit.
Brandy is a popular ingredient in many classic cocktail recipes. Being such an essential cocktail ingredient, you should also have it in your home bar. You can create fabulous cocktails with all sorts of Brandys. And it is also great for simple mixed drinks when paired with a suitable mixer.
So let’s have a look at the different types of Brandy, the best mixers, and guide to Brandy cocktails you must try.
Different types of Brandy
One of the main reasons why Brandy drinks and cocktails are so popular is their versatility. Brandy is made of fermented fruit wine based on grapes, apples, blackberries, apricots, or blends of the before-mentioned. Therefore, the resulting aromas and texture of the Brandy vary widely. And often, a Brandy gets named after the regions where it originates.
To give you a better idea of this, here are some common categories of Brandys.
Armagnac is a very traditional and quite well-known Brandy made of grape wine in the Armagnac region. It is distilled once and then ages for ten years. The result is a warm and comforting Brandy best enjoyed neat or in a Brandy version of an Old Fashioned.
Brandy de Jerez
Brandy de Jerez is a Spanish grape-based Brandy. Produced in the Jerez area in Andalusia, this Brandy is aged in Sherry casks. That is another perfect example of a Brandy that is perfect for drinking it neat.
Calvados is a french Brandy from Normandy. It is based on apples and aged on oak barrels. The intense notes of apple and wood in this spirit are excellent for creating riffs on classic Brandy cocktails.
Cognac, probably the most famous French Brandy, is based on grapes. It is harvested and produced in the Cognac region and made by some established and very well-known brands. Remy Martin and Hennessy are just two of them.
Cognac is great for simple Brandy drinks made with a mixer. Continue reading for more recommendations on how to mix it.
Eau-de-Vie Brandies are colorless and unaged Brandies made of different kinds of fruits. They have a dominant fruit taste to them and work great in cocktails and Brandy drinks made with mixers.
Grappa is an Italian Brandy. It’s part of a category that’s called pomace Brandy. This category of Brandy is made of grapes as well. But unlike the other types, pomace Brandies are made of leftovers from the wine production processes. Even so, Grappa is a world-famous Brandy that is best enjoyed as a Digestif.
Yes, Pisco, too, is actually a type of Brandy. The famous Latin American spirit is the main ingredient for the world-famous Pisco Sour cocktail.
Various fruit Brandies
Fruit Brandies tend to be very aromatic. Commonly made of apple, cherry, or pear, these flavorsome spirits are great in cocktails and other Brandy drinks.
While you can drink most of them neat, some prefer some dilution by adding an ice cube or some soda water.
Great mixers for Brandy
Brandy is often drunk neat or in cocktails. But an option many let aside is a simple Brandy drink created with just a single mixer. If you don’t know what to mix with your Brandy, don’t worry. I compiled the list below with the best mixers for delicious Brandy drinks.
Amaretto is a sweet Italian Liqueur from Saronno. Made from Apricot kernels, peach stones, and bitter almonds, it works amazingly well with Brandy. In combination with Cognac, it’s the key ingredient for a famous Brandy cocktail – the French Connection. This cocktail is utterly simple to make. All you need is an equal amount of Amaretto and Cognac plus a large ice cube. Et voila, your French Connection is ready to be served.
Brandy mixed with lemonade can make a great summer drink. The addition of lemonade emphasizes the fruity notes of Brandy, making it a drink that’s light and easy on the palate. The best choice of Brandy here would be unaged ones, like, for example, Pisco.
That might come as a surprise, but Champagne and Brandy go extraordinary well together. Especially grape-based Brandies are great when mixed with a delicate and bubbly Champagne.
Most of us tried this before, and because it is such a widely known combination, I have to mention it as well. Coke mixed with Brandy work a treat. While I am not a big fan of mixing Rum or Whiskey with cola, to me, a mix with Brandy is a different story. It brings in palatable fruity notes that you don’t get by adding a Rum or Whiskey.
Hot drinks and cocktails are great when spiked with Brandy. A cup of hot chocolate is no exception. A generous splash of Brandy in your hot chocolate is perfect for warming up on a cold winter evening. So next time you want to spike your hot chocolate, leave the Rum aside and try Brandy instead. Let me know in the comments how you like it.
Best Brandy cocktails you have to try
Finally, the cocktails… There are plenty of good and classic Brandy cocktail recipes out there. My selection below shows just a fraction of the possibilities. -However, my favorite ones. So the next time you shake up a cocktail at home, try to make one of these beauties.
The Brandy Alexander is one of the most famous Brandy cocktails. A simple mix of white creme de cacao, heavy cream, and Cognac will create a delicious creamy drink.
Brandy Old Fashioned
The Brandy Old Fashioned is a brilliant twist on the classic Old Fashioned Recipe. All you need is a good Brandy, sugar, Angostura bitters, and some lemon-lime soda. There are many different variations of this cocktail. So if you’re into it, spend some time experimenting to find your personal favorite ratios.
The Vieux Carré is another intense and traditional cocktail classic based on Brandy. Originating from the French Quarter in New Orleans, this cocktail contains Cognac, Rye Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, Benedictine, and cocktail bitters.
By the way, besides the Sazerac, Ramos Gin Fizz, and the Crusta, it’s one of the most famous cocktails coming from New Orleans.
I love a good Pisco Sour. And honestly, the best ones I had were in South America. People there do love their Pisco, and when you order a Pisco Sour in Peru or Chile, I promise you won’t get disappointed. Saying this, it’s not too hard to create it at home as well. All you need is a good Pisco, lemon juice, syrup, egg white, and some Angostura bitters.
This one is very close to a classic Manhattan cocktail. It is easy to make, and also, the number of ingredients is quite limited: Brandy mixed with Sweet Vermouth, sugar, and some cocktail bitters. That’s it.
Typically made with Cognac, a Sidecar cocktail also works with other types of Brandy. The combination of Cognac, lemon juice, and Cointreau is very citrusy and complex. But the cocktail is doing a delightful job of balancing the sourness with sweet notes, creating a very intense, dry, and rich cocktail.