Skip to main content

Our 5 favorite brandy drinks, ranked

The best brandy drinks, ranked

Ulvi Safari/Unsplash

Brandy is much more than an old-timey drink your grandparents enjoyed sipping in front of a roaring fireplace on a cold winter night. It’s a complex, flavorful, warming spirit that you might know by a variety of names.

On top of the brandy itself, the spirit’s umbrella encompasses cognac, calvados, Armagnac, pisco, fruit brandies, and more. That being said, today we’re most interested in grape-based, aged, flavorful, classic brandy.

In the most basic terms, brandy is a spirit made from distilled wine and other kinds of fermented fruit juices. After distilling, like whiskey, it’s commonly matured in oak barrels before being bottled. Often enjoyed neat or on the rocks as a complex digestif after a heavy meal or to warm your bones on a frigid winter night. But if that’s all you’re using brandy for, you’re really missing out.

Whiskey cocktail
Ash Edmonds/Unsplash

Brandy is great for cocktails

While brandy is a great after-dinner drink, it’s also perfectly suited to be mixed with. The spirit is known for its flavor profile, featuring notes of dried fruits, spices, oak, vanilla, caramel, and other flavors depending on the type of brandy. These flavors mingle well with other ingredients.

Bourbon cocktail
Bon Vivant/Unsplash

Our five favorite brandy drinks

Some of the most popular classic cocktails ever made have brandy as their base. This includes the Vieux Carre, Brandy Alexander, Sidecar, and more. Keep scrolling to learn about these and more of our favorite brandy cocktails.

Between the sheets
Kevin Kelly/Unsplash

5.) Between The Sheets

Made with brandy, white rum, triple sec, and lemon juice, Between The Sheets is known for its citrus-centered, sweet, boozy flavor profile. A take on the sidecar, this classic cocktail has its genesis in the 1920s. Like many mixed drinks of the era, many believe this drink was created by well-known cocktail creator and bartender Harry MacElhone at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Although, some believe MacElhone simply put it into print and someone else entirely actually invented it.

Brandy Alexander
Mgg Vitchakorn/Unsplash

4.) Brandy Alexander

There aren’t many brandy-based cocktails more popular than the iconic Brandy Alexander. This dessert or after-dinner drink is made with brandy, crème de cacao, and fresh cream. While many classic cocktails have muddled histories, few are as mysterious as the Brandy Alexander. While there are various claims of its genesis, many believe it was created by a bartender named Troy Alexander at New York City’s Rector’s in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

Ambitious Studio* - Rick Barrett/Unsplash

3.) Sidecar

Similar to the aforementioned Between The Sheets, this drink doesn’t contain any rum and lets the brandy shine. The other ingredients include triple sec and fresh lemon juice. Named for the motorcycle sidecar, this drink is believed to have been invented in London at the Buck’s Club sometime after World War I. Others believe that the drink is yet another creation of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Regardless of who created it and where, this timeless classic is known for its sweet, fresh, boozy flavor profile.

Old Fashioned
Pylyp Sukhenko/Unsplash

2.) Brandy Old Fashioned

There are no cocktails more well-known than the Old Fashioned. While this drink is commonly made with a base of bourbon or rye, brandy is an exceptional substitute. brandy’s The vanilla, caramel, oak, and fruit flavor mingle perfectly with the sugar, water, and Angostura bitters. One of the reasons the Old Fashioned is so popular is because of its versatility and how easily it can be transformed when you swap out one spirit for another.

Vieux Carre
Adam Jaime/Unsplash

1.) Vieux Carre

When it comes to complexity in the brandy-based cocktail world, it’s difficult to beat the overall appeal of the classic Vieux Carre. While brandy isn’t the main spirit, it’s not complete without it. The drink consists of rye whiskey, cognac (or brandy), sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, and Peychaud’s bitters. While many famous cocktails have murky, debatable histories, the Vieux Carre doesn’t. An iconic New Orleans cocktail, the drink was first mixed up in 1937 by a bartender named Walter Bergeron at the famed Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone in the Louisiana city.

Thomas Park/Unsplash

Picking the right brandy for mixing

If you’re a fan of classic brandy drinks, you can’t go wrong with a traditional brandy. If you’re really into home bartending, you should have a reasonably priced, flavorful bottle of brandy and a bottle of cognac. If you’re really into the spirit style, you’ll try mixing with pisco, calvados, and some of the less-known brandy varieties.

After you try the above drinks, why not mix out the rye or bourbon in your favorite whiskey-based cocktail and add brandy instead? This will add a fruity, sweet flair to your favorite drinks. Whether it’s a Manhattan, whiskey sour, or whiskey smash, brandy is a great replacement spirit for countless cocktails.

Editors' Recommendations

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
The 10 best gins for a refreshing gin and tonic
Grab one of these for your next G&T
Gin and tonic lime lemon rosemary

The gin and tonic is always in season, even in the depths of winter, but there's something perfect about a great G&T as the days get longer and warmer (aka, right now). Naturally, the best gins make for the best G&T, so don't sell your drink short.

Quinine, the main flavoring and base of tonic water, turned out to taste pretty bitter and nasty, so people turned to gin to help get their daily dose of the malaria-fighting compound. Combined with a little lime juice, a warm-weather classic was born. These days, the G&T can be simple or extravagant, so to help you find your best version, we've put together a list of our favorite gins for a G&T. Here are the best gins.

Read more
The 10 best rosé wines that everyone should drink
It's time to finally try rosé
Rose wine glasses

Rosé rules -- no ifs, ands, or buts. You’ve most definitely seen dudes drinking rosé, with the pink wine sold in forties. Chances are, you’ve heard the term “brosé” at least once or twice in your life. Heck, people are cooking with rosé. Can you believe that? It's a sweet wine worth talking about.

All this talk about the drink prompted us to go on a quest to find the most exceptional ones this rosé season. With plenty of great options in the market, we chose to narrow down our list to these best rosé wines for your next hot date, guys' night, or solo Netflix binge. Still reluctant to try this magical wine? We listed seven reasons why you should start drinking rosé.
Best rosé wines

Read more
The Native American cuisine movement is on the rise
The vitality of Native cuisine
Chef Jack Strong.

Native American cuisine and indigenous food predate any food trend we know by a long shot. Tribes from coast to coast have created culinary styles over thousands of years, utilizing the ingredients that surround them and tried and true cooking techniques. Today, as indigenous peoples rightfully look to reclaim their seat at the table, we're seeing a rise in Native American cuisine and an entire movement around first foods.

Jack Strong is the executive chef at The Allison Inn & Spa, a luxury resort in the heart of Willamette Valley wine country. The restaurant is known for taking advantage of the many incredible ingredients that thrive in the region. He grew up in Oregon and is a member of the Siletz tribe, touting more than three decades of professional cooking experience to his name. He's one of relatively few native chefs, but the indigenous food movement is working to change that. After all, a culinary landscape that does not accurately reflect its community or historical context is a faulty one at best.

Read more