Brandy can be found in a number of classic cocktails, many of which have been lost to time and the pages of dusty bartending guides. However, a few of these have lasted through the years and remain favorites for many cocktail lovers and I have chosen ten of those to feature below. These drinks are a nice introduction to mixing with brandy and are often simple recipes that allow the spirit to shine, using the other ingredients to merely accent the taste of a good brandy.
1. Brandy Cocktail
We will begin the list with none other than the Brandy Cocktail, which fits the definition of a cocktail perfectly. It mixes brandy with curacao, then finishes it off with 2 dashes of both Angostura and Peychaud's Bitters.
2. Brandy Daisy
The Brandy Daisy is very similar to the Brandy Cocktail and it represents a style of cocktail as well. The brandy version is one of the better 'daisy cocktails' and uses a mere dashes of rum, curacao, and simple syrup with lemon and soda to bring everything together.
As many of these recipes show, simpler is often better and no cocktail proves this more than the B&B. You really do not need a recipe, either: it is equal parts of brandy and the herbal liqueur, Benedictine, served in a snifter. It is, as one reader puts it, a 'heavenly drink.'
The Sidecar is one of those drinks that has seen many makeovers over the years and it is one of those drinks that you can easily adapt to your personal taste. The recipe uses a brandy of choice (often Cognac or Armagnac), orange liqueur, and lemon juice.
6. Vieux Carre
A New Orleans classic, the Vieux Carre is an interesting cocktail with layers of memorable flavors. Cognac is combines with rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, and (again) both Angostura and Peychaud's Bitters. It is a culmination of the best ingredients to pair with a good brandy.
7. Champagne Cocktail
When brandy and Champagne meet inside of a glass the result is pure elegance. Not only is this a timeless drink that will forever be used for celebrations, but the fountain of bubbles from the sugar cube makes for a stunning visual effect.
8. Club Cocktail
This is a brandy cocktail with a snappy side. The brandy and maraschino are sweet and sultry which contrasts nicely with the pineapple and Peychaud's Bitters and is a nice change from the often darker uses of the spirit.
9. Corpse Reviver
This Corpse Reviver recipe is just one of the many drinks to have taken the name since the first notation in 1871 and it also has a gin counterpart. This is the most common classic recipe and uses both brandy and apple brandy along with sweet vermouth. It is a delightful drink with a delicate twist on the Metropolitan.
10. Tom & Jerry
Though I have attempted to keep this list universal to the seasons, I cannot skip one of the best brandy drinks of all time, the Tom & Jerry. It is a traditional drink served around Christmas and is typically made of Cognac, dark rum, egg, simple syrup, and warm milk. If you have an aversion to this style of drink in general, I strongly suggest giving this one a try because it just may change your mind.