Brandy is a common alcoholic choice for many cocktails. Its sweet, fruity, and floral flavor lends itself to many creative cocktails, but it is also a staple in cocktail culture and has been for over 100 years.
Its name is a shortened form of Brandywine, so named because of the manner of production.
It is produced by fermenting wine, which gives it its distinct flavor profile. It is fermented for at least two years in a wooden barrel.
The caramel color comes from additional coloring which gives it that aged appeal, but other times it does come naturally, needing a little additional coloring depending on the fermentation process.
Classic Brandy Cocktails
In this list, we will rank the best brandy cocktails for you! Try them out and see which one you like best – and don’t forget to use a high quality brandy when you make them.
A Brandy Alexander is a dessert cocktail consisting of 1-part cognac, 1-part crème de cacao, and 1-part fresh cream.
It is a variation of the original Alexander cocktail, a cocktail made with gin. Today, the drink can also be made with gin or brandy, but Brandy Alexander refers to the brandy variety only.
Whether it was created for a Tsar in Russia or whipped up by a bartender in New York City, it became popular in the early 20th century.
It is best served in a cocktail glass, straight, with no ice. Top with a sprinkle of ground nutmeg to finish it off.
This Peruvian cocktail is typical in Peru and Chile. Its base liquor is pisco, which also contributes to its name.
Pisco is a South American type of brandy, but it has a different flavor profile than cognac.
To make this drink, shake 1 ½ ounce of Pisco, an egg white, 1 ounce of lemon juice, and ¾ ounce of simple syrup vigorously.
Then strain into an old-fashioned glass and garnish with Angostura bitters.
The sidecar is one of the more versatile brandy cocktails out there. It is served straight up, chilled, with no ice in a cocktail glass.
As long as it includes cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon juice. Some recipes add sugar to sweeten it.
However, according to the IBA, it contains 5 cl of cognac, 2 cl of triple sec, and 2 cl of lemon juice.
The Brandy Manhattan is another drink that is a variation of the traditional Manhattan.
Brandy is sweeter than whiskey and has fruity and floral notes. This flavor profile elevates the Manhattan into a more sophisticated drink.
To make a Brandy Manhattan, you will need brandy or cognac, sweet red vermouth, and angostura bitters.
The garnish is usually a luxardo cherry. Using a cocktail shaker will dilute the drink. Instead, stir the ingredients together and serve in a cocktail glass.
This cocktail dates back to the 1930s in New Orleans. Its name in French translates to “old square”.
Old square likely refers to the famed French Quarter in New Orleans and pays homage to the city of its creation.
The best way to serve it is straight-up, chilled, without ice, topped with orange zest and a maraschino cherry. It is slightly sweet, but the rye whiskey keeps it stiff!
Between the Sheets
Between the Sheets is a cheekily named cocktail made by mixing white rum, cognac, triple sec, and orange juice.
It is called a Maiden’s Prayer if you make it with gin instead of rum and cognac. Its origins can be traced back to bartenders who added their personal spin on a traditional Sidecar cocktail!
The addition of white rum to the ingredients is what differentiates the two.
Serve it straight up, chilled, with no ice, and in a cocktail glass for best taste and aesthetic. People believe it was invented by a bartender in the 1920s, like many cocktails of this kind.
Between the Sheets is another cocktail considered a part of the “Unforgettables” list by the IBA!
Wisconsin Brandy Old-Fashioned
The Wisconsin Brandy Old-Fashioned is nothing more than an old-fashioned recipe that uses a particular type of Brandy produced in Wisconsin and loved by locals.
Interestingly enough, Wisconsin buys the most Korbel brandy of any other state!
This recipe calls for Korbel brandy, maple syrup, sour mix or soda water, maraschino cherries, an orange slice, and angostura bitters.
The key to making this cocktail is to muddle the maple syrup, orange, and maraschino cherries until it achieves paste-like consistency.
Then add the ice and Korbel and top with 7-Up soda, soda water, or a mix of both.
The French Connection is a simple concoction of brandy and amaretto.
To make this cocktail, pour one part brandy and one part amaretto into a glass filled with ice. Gently stir to combine and drink.
If you make a large batch for many people, keep the proportions the same, stir carefully to combine, and serve in an old-fashioned glass over ice.
The Stinger Cocktail is another duo cocktail – meaning there are only two ingredients in the drink.
Popularized at the turn of the 20th century, it maintained its popularity for about 70 years, well into the 1970s. It was considered an upper-class drink and was loved by those in high society.
The best way to make this cocktail is by pouring the creme de menthe and brandy into a cocktail shaker with ice.
Then, stir the ingredients together and strain them into a cocktail glass. If you prefer a more chilled drink, you can strain it in a glass filled with ice!
The Brandy Sour is like any other cocktail combining sour mix and a type of alcohol, but the sweetness of brandy makes it more palatable than those other drinks.
It is thought that the Brandy Sour was created in Cyprus in a hotel during the 1930s! Today, the brandy sour is the unofficial national cocktail of Cyprus.
To make the perfect Cypriot Brandy Sour, combine Cypriot brandy, Cypriot lemon squash, 2-4 drops of angostura bitters, and top with soda water.
Of course, there are other variations on the Cypriot brandy sour, but the idea is the same. Lemons, bitters, brandy, and soda water! Serve this drink on the rocks in a highball glass.
Pro Tip: the key to making a perfect lemon squash at home is to boil lemon juice and sugar until they combine into a thick syrup!
Sangria is a very well-known summer drink for people who love brandy and red wine.
The combination is perfect because brandy is an extension of wine due to its production process.
Sangria originated in Spain and Portugal and was popularized in America after the 1964 World’s Fair, where it formally arrived.
Adding fruit to red wine to dilute its strength is an ancient practice, but adding brandy to it for an extra kick is newer.
To make the perfect red sangria follow these steps:
- Muddle together apples, oranges, and sugar in the bottom of your serving glass
- Add in orange juice and brandy, then muddle again.
- Pour the red wine in and stir gently.
- Add ice, stir once again
- Chill until time to serve.
Classic Brandy Cocktails
- Brandy Alexander
- Pisco Sour
- Sidecar Cocktail
- Brandy Manhattan
- Vieux Carre
- Between the Sheets
- Wisconsin Brandy Old-Fashioned
- French Connection
- Stinger Cocktail
- Brandy Sour
- Red Sangria
Creating cocktails is a little bit of experimentation, some luck, and a lot about the flavors you choose. Using brandy for cocktails is a great choice because it is light, sweet, floral, and fruity. It provides a different taste palette unlike other alcohols in a similar category like dark rum or whiskey.
Brandy is a type of alcohol that is as historic as they come. Since it is a variation of wine, the process to make it is now near perfection due to its long-standing history. You can be sure that the brandy you use, no matter the brand, will elevate your drink!
If you’re using cognac for any of these cocktails, check out our list of the best cognac bottles.
Have you had any of the drinks on our list already? See something you might want to try? Give one, two, or all 11 a try! You never know what you might enjoy!