Brandy, a spirit made by distilling wine and thus increasing its alcohol content, is traditionally served in a snifter as an after-dinner drink. The pear-shaped glass allows the heat from the drinker’s hand to gently warm the brandy, intensifying its scent and flavor. Because brandy carries a sweet, fruity flavor, you can mix it with several juices.
If you like your drinks on the tart side, lemon juice helps tone down the sugary sweetness of many brandy varieties. Cut a lemon in half and cut a long, thin strip of peel off for garnish. Quarter both halves and squeeze one quarter into a snifter of brandy. Twist the lemon peel into a curl and hook it over the rim of the snifter. To make a sour cocktail, squeeze the juice from an entire lemon half into a cocktail shaker, sprinkle in a little powdered sugar and add the brandy. Shake the mixture with ice before straining into a cocktail glass. Add orange liqueur to brandy and lemon juice to make the classic sidecar. Start with two parts brandy and one part each lemon juice and orange liqueur, adding more juice to taste.
Like many other spirits, brandy is very compatible with orange juice. Mix three parts brandy to one part orange juice for a beverage with a flavor similar to sangria. Serve over ice and garnish with orange slices and maraschino cherries. Add in triple sec, an orange-flavored liqueur, to intensify the orange flavor. Make a large amount of the mixture and serve from a punch bowl or pitcher if you want to serve several people at once.
Mix brandy with cranberry juice and serve in a martini glass for a sweet, colorful cocktail. Mix in a shot of triple sec and garnish with a twist of lime peel for an alternative version of the chic cosmopolitan. Use any variety of cranberry juice cocktail to add a hint of another flavor, such as grape, cherry, blueberry or apple, to your brandy cocktail.
Like lemon juice, lime juice can help tone down a very sweet brandy. Add brandy to lime juice and triple sec instead of tequila to make a brandy-based margarita. Serve in a wide cocktail glass with a salted rim, if desired, and garnish with a lime wedge. A quick squeeze of lime juice can also serve as a complementary addition to other juice-based brandy cocktails, give them just a hint of tart flavor, as opposed to the often overwhelming tartness of lemon juice.
References and ResourcesSerious Eats: Cocktail 101 -- Five Essential Brandy Cocktails
Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide; Anthony Giglio
ResourcesThe Shiksa: How to Make a Lemon or Lime Twist