Only a short time ago, the notion of Scotch cocktails seemed a bit absurd to many drinkers—isn't Scotch supposed to be served neat? But as bartenders became acquainted with more affordable blended Scotches marketed for mixing, Scotch cocktails started popping up at bars across the country. Cognac is, in many ways, a similar case: a generally pricey spirit whose higher-end bottles are indeed best enjoyed straight, but whose more affordable brethren can shine when mixed. As we're seeing mixology-focused cognacs hit the market, perhaps the cognac cocktail is on the verge of a comeback.
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This cocktail is an apple orchard in a glass, bursting with three layers of apple flavor from fresh sweet cider, 100-proof apple brandy, and fizzy hard cider.
Thanks to a crop of small distillers, the U.S. is now one of the most exciting producers of apple brandy. We tasted our way through an orchard of bottles to find a few of the best.
Some compare the South American spirit to grappa, because both are distilled from grapes. Others relate it to tequila, as it often has similar herbal, earthy flavors. The truth is, comparisons to other liquors often fall flat because pisco has its own unique personality. We tasted through 25 different piscos, exploring what makes the category so wild and wonderful. Here are our 10 favorites.
A potent mix of applejack, grenadine, and lemon juice flavored with a dash of Peychaud's bitters.
Brandied cherries add a deep cherry flavor and boozy kick to this rustic French custard.
This historic punch recipe originates from a 1711 British recipe, but The Varnish's Max Seaman made some modifications for the modern day drinker.
There are few things I like more than putting some booze in my brunch, and the combination of apples and brandy are one of my favorites. Here, they combine in a quick and easy doughnut recipe.
Lighten and brighten up the classic Brandy Alexander with a little homemade quince syrup.
Be your own Balaboosta and serve malabi at your next dinner party. It's a milk custard thickened with cornstarch and topped with an orange marmalade and brandy sauce.
A forgotten cocktail from the era of Prohibition, the Twelve Mile Limit is one of the booziest cocktails you'll ever drink.
Brandied peaches are the star of this pie, but you'll also love the unexpected crunch of the almond-tiled pie crust against the juiciness of the fruit.
Cognac. To many, it's the ultimate in brandy. Now, you may ask why? Does it taste better? is it the expense? The time to make it? The grapes? The history? I'd say it's all of those things, and more. But what is cognac? How's it made, and what makes it special?
When I mention brandy, you probably have an image already in your head. An older gentleman, sitting quietly in a leather armchair, perhaps smoking a pipe while listening to Brahms, swirling a snifter of brandy around in his hand. We think of brandy as an Old World after-dinner drink. And I have to say, it serves that purpose beautifully. But if you limit it to that, you're missing out on a lot.
This weekend Bottom Shelf research director Emily and I are going to Original Portland to drink great beer and pretend not to notice how cold it is, because that's the deal you make with yourself when you go to Maine in January.
Jeff Bell uses traditional English wassail, a ceremonial cider-based beverage mulled with citrus and spice, as the base for this cocktail at PDT in New York.
Warm riesling is delicious when steeped with honey, lemon, and cardamom.
Advocaat is often called Dutch egg nog, but it's actually more like a creamy brandy custard with a deep and rich flavor and a light, pudding-like texture.
As with any variation on hot buttered rum, this drink is about execution. Using a simple batter made of creamed butter and brown sugar makes sure you get the flavor of the butter without the dreaded oil slick on the top of your cocktail.
When we talk about uniquely American drinks, bourbon gets most of the love, but if you really want to drink like a pioneer, you should be sipping applejack. Located on a small Hudson Valley farm in Valatie, New York, Harvest Spirits makes an especially fine rendition of the stuff.