Brandy can be daunting. While its dark spirit sisters, whiskey and rum, show up in a slew of classic cocktails and rule drinks menus across the country, brandy is a bit more mysterious. Though a nice bottle of Cognac can (and should) be sipped straight, there are also plenty of wonderful cocktails that feature brandy as its leading lady. Here, the seven best brandy drinks you need to be making.
7 Best Brandy Cocktails
One of the most popular after-dinner cocktails, the Brandy Alexander is sweet and creamy without being overly decadent. It’s the perfect dessert alternative. The cocktail was originally made with gin and simply called an “Alexander,” but at the 1922 London wedding of Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles, the spirit swap was made, forever overshadowing the original.
dark crème de cacao
You may be struggling to understand what makes a Cognac and orgeat cocktail Japanese. Unfortunately, we don’t have the answer. Some theorize the cocktail was inspired by Japan's first mission to the U.S. in 1860, but there is no definitive proof to back that story up. Regardless of its origins, the Japanese Cocktail is a delicious brandy-tail, that proves orgeat can elevate more than just tiki drinks.
While not as well known as its tart cousin, the Corpse Reviver #2, the #1 is arguably a superior cocktail. The drink doubles down on brandy as the main spirit, with equal parts Cognac and Calvados (a traditional French apple brandy), and adds a touch of sweet vermouth to round everything out.
This cocktail is the epitome of Parisian elegance, with French favorites brandy and green chartreuse coming together to create a gorgeous amber hue and a dry, delicately complex flavor. The recipe first appeared (scaled up) in The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930, so we recommend following Harry Craddock’s lead and serving it as a punch at your next party.
It may be on the sweeter side of the stirred drinks spectrum, but make no mistake: The French Connection means business. The equal-parts Cognac and nutty amaretto cocktail is as deceptively easy to drink as it is to mix up.
The sparkly sugar rim is the defining feature of this old-school cocktail, giving the drinker a sweet treat before the sour mix of brandy, orange curaçao, bitters and lemon juice hits their lips. It’s a must-sip for any budding cocktail historian as the Brandy Crusta gave birth to sweet and sour cocktails like the Sidecar, Gimlet and Daiquiri.
The Sidecar originated at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in 1930 as a reimagining of the Brandy Crusta. Cognac, lemon juice, orange liqueur and the iconic sugar crust all still make an appearance—only the bitters are 86’d.