Brandy is a subject that comes up frequently in our blogs, in our office conversations, and on our French culinary vacations. There are so many types of brandies in France alone that it’s no wonder we return time and again to this wonderful spirit.
If you thought brandy was just, well, brandy think again! It is at heart a spirit distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice, but the results can vary dramatically: both Cognac and Calvados (the Normandy apple brandy) are brandies, as is grappa!
Two of our favorites are Cognac and Armagnac, both of which you can enjoy on our French culinary vacations. This latter is found in the Gascony region of southwest France and is a bit less known and therefore frequently less expensive than it’s more famous brother Cognac. (It is also one of the things we love about the Midi-Pyreenes region.) They are wonderful to drink on their own of course, especially as a post-dinner digestif, but they also make great cocktail ingredients. Heading into the weekend here are a few to try!
- maraschino cherry
1. Elegant, sour, and sophisticated, this is my personal favorite. Combine 4 parts Cognac (or Armagnac) to 2 parts Cointreau (or another orange liqueur) to 1 part freshly squeezed lemon juice.
2. Shake with ice and serve in a sugar-rimmed martini glass with a Maraschino cherry and lemon twist.
2) Vieux Carré
The name of this drink translates to the “Old Square,” but it refers to New Orleans’s famed French Quarter, where the drink was invented. Combine equal parts Cognac (or Armagnac), Rye Whiskey, and Sweet Vermouth in a shaker with ice. Add a scant splash of Benedictine liqueur (or another herbal liqueur as substitute), a dash each of Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters, and shake. Serve up in a highball glass with a lemon twist.
3) Tom and Jerry
This decadent creation is a lot like eggnog and is a perfect treat for the holidays or as a New Year’s Eve cocktail. First you make the “batter”: beat well 3 egg yolks with 1 cup sugar, 1 ounce dark rum, a tsp of vanilla, and a dash of bitters. Add a dash of cinnamon and a small pinch of allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. Whip separately the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the yolk mixture. Refrigerate. To assemble the drink, first warm the mug with boil water for a few minutes. Dump the water and put in about 1/4 cup of the batter with 1/2 ounce each cognac (or armagnac) and dark rum. Top with milk heated to just under a boil (about 1/2 cup) and dust with nutmeg.
What are your favorite Cognac cocktails?
By Peg Kern
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