Brandy has been undergoing a renaissance. It’s been taken off the shelves in the back of the cupboard and had its fusty old-fashioned image revamped. After all, everything that goes out of fashion, has to eventually come back into vogue again.
Formerly, brandy was the domain of septuagenarian men wearing velvet dinner jackets and listening to Stravinsky on a record player. Now it’s very fashionable to have a brandy in cocktail bars all over the country.
An Ode to Brandy
It’s a distillate of fruit wine. This can be distilled in a variety of different ways from many different fruit sources. There are excellent plum, pear, apple, grape, apricot and cherry brandys. However that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The countless historical experimentations by distillers have given us excellent varieties such as the French cognac is traditionally grown in the eponymous town of Cognac. Also armagnac, which is another aromatic French brandy is produced in a town called Armagnac.
The latter is more rustic than cognac, and is aged for at least two years in French oak barrels. The French take their cognac and armagnac very seriously – just like their food. In fact, brandy is a major ingredient in loads of French dishes.
Apple brandy deserves it’s own time in the sun. It’s brilliantly versatile and makes for great cocktails. Two of the best are the American applejack and French Calvados. Expect new world apple brandy to be brash and big in flavour, whereas Calvados is more subtle and nuanced.
Old Fashioned Brandy Cocktails Made Cool Again
Tap your French oak barrel and let’s get started!
This classic brandy cocktail is generally best made with cognac. This will give the best side car. Other grape brandy varieties from America can be used, however the result doesn’t taste the same.
A South American variety of brandy that uses un-aged grapes. Peru and Chile are big competitors for the best and boldest pisco variety. The Pisco Sour is a tartly sour and terrifically refreshing summer drink.
It’s a case of back to the future, as old fashioned drinks such as Cognac and Armagnac come surging into the 21st Century. The next time you’re out and about, ask about a vintage cocktail!