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Our 5 favorite brandy drinks, ranked

The best brandy drinks, ranked

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

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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
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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
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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.

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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.

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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