The Brandy Crusta, while oddly named in this age, is perhaps one of the most elegant cocktails I have ever had. Honestly, we just don’t call drinks “crusty” in a loving way much any more. For the Brandy Crusta it refers to the sugar crusted rim on the drink. I’m not exactly sure why this cocktail fell to the way side, as it is absolutely delicious, and not complicated.
Now that I have lots of quarantine time on my hands, I’m diving back into some older cocktails. I’m trying to update them a bit more for today’s palate, like the Daisy Cocktail. In this case I pared the lemon juice back and increased the triple sec and simple syrup very slightly. I was looking for more of a balance. The result is simply elegant. Elegant like in a “tuxedo or evening dress at a swanky downtown club, with a jazz trio in the corner” sort of thing. I have used Brandy, Cognac, and Calvados (apple brandy) all with great effect. The brandy is a stronger drink, the cognac, more subtle, and calvados is, well, more apple.
I am really tempted to start swapping out base spirit for other dark and flavorful options, such as whiskey and dark rum. Although, before you head off the map, I recommend to start with brandy or cognac, to get a feel for how it should be made.
The most difficult part of this drink is the sugar rim, which in all fairness is really easy. I just run the flesh of some piece of citrus around the rim, like an orange or lemon, then dunk it, rim down on a plate of sugar. From here the drink is a cinch!
For your party cocktail menu.
Brandy Crusta c.1862
Cognac or Brandy. Lemon. Triple Sec. Cane Syrup. Angostura
Cocktails come in families. Really, if you think about it is totally logical, make a great cocktail and the experiment from there. Some of these families are very old, the Sidecar comes from what we modern folks would call the “Margarita” family, which is actually the “Crusta” family if you were around in 1850’s. A family of cocktails can be based on a few things, certain ingredients, ratio of ingredients, the way they are made, and usually a combination of all three. This family is 2 ounces of a base, orange liqueur, citrus, and syrup, often with a sugar or salt rim.
When designing cocktails, typically I start with a family based on what I want at the end. If I want a booze forward drink, Martini family, a balanced drink, Daisy family, More tart, Crusta, you get the idea i’m sure.
For fun, when you have time, this family is a fun one, try each cocktail in succession and it is easy to see the evolution from our fore bearers to today.
Brandy Crusta; to a Sidecar; to a Margarita.
All excellent, all in this same family.
The Brandy Crusta, while oddly named in this age, is perhaps one of the most elegant cocktails I have ever had, with an odd name. Honestly, we just don't call drinks "crusty" in a loving way much any more. For the Brandy Crusta it refers to the sugar crusted rim on the drink.
- 2 ounces Brandy or Cognac
- 1/2 ounce Fresh Lemon Juice
- 2 teaspoons Triple Sec
- 2 teaspoons Simple Syrup
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
- Lemon Peel as a Garnish
Rim a coupe in sugar by running the flesh of some piece of citrus around the rim, like an orange or lemon, then dunk it, rim down on a plate of sugar.
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker.
Shake and strain into the coupe.
Add lemon peel to the rim.
After enjoying a Brandy Crusta, give its next generation a try, the Sidecar. You will notice the similarities between this parent and her child.