Mixology Monday: Brandy

Cognac: Spot

Cognac: Spot, originally uploaded by Shaylor.

The first Mixology Monday of 2008 is being hosted by the clever Marleigh of Sloshed! and she has chosen a warm and friendly theme that’s sure to bring a little something for everyone: Brandy.

I’ve written about brandy in the past (most notably here). So many lovely drinks can be made with it. For this post, I wanted to try a cocktail I’d never tasted before. I searched my (meager) collection of cocktail books and came up with a few intriguing recipes for the Brandy Daisy — but no background on the drink or explanation for the name.

Thank heavens for the Internet, because Wikipedia filled in a few blanks. The drink appears to be a predecessor of the Sidecar, which as longtime readers know is one of my very favorite cocktails (and my Drink of the Year for 2003). Margaritas can be traced back to it too:

The Brandy Daisy is a cocktail which first gained popularity in the late 19th century. One of the earliest known recipes was published in 1876 in the second edition of Jerry ThomasThe Bartenders Guide or How To Mix Drinks: The Bon-Vivants Companion.

Over the years, multiple variants of the recipe developed, including other daisies involving other base spirits, such as whiskey or gin. Citrus — typically lemon juice, but occasionally orange or lime juice — is common throughout most daisy recipes. Liqueurs or cordials also figure prominently, ranging from Curaçao to maraschino or yellow Chartreuse, distinguishing the daisy from other sour cocktails. Sweeteners range from gomme syrup to grenadine syrup, raspberry syrup, or bar sugar.

It was the grenadine that caught my eye. Here was a recipe that would fit the bill for MxMo January and give me a reason to try my hand at homemade grenadine, which peterb of Tea Leaves had written about recently. Homemade grenadine is worlds better than the ubiquitous Rose’s stuff, which is just colored high-fructose corn syrup.

The grenadine was easy: 1 cup POM brand pomegranate juice, 1 cup sugar, boil until the temperature reaches 220 degrees F. Next time I’ll aim for a lower temperature, as the syrup I made is a bit thick; 210 degrees might be a better endpoint.

I added a little vodka to my syrup to thin it — supposedly this addition will also preserve the syrup, but I’m keeping it in the fridge all the same. Anyway, I expect to use it all up before anything can start spoiling it.

The fact that I’m using homemade grenadine of uncertain syrupiness calls into question the proportions I’m about to give you. The other monkeywrench is the quality of the lemons I’m using — or rather, the lack of quality. It’s hard to find good citrus in the wilds of western Pennsylvania in January. The recipes I’ve seen have been all over the board anyway though. Start with this ratio, tweak to your taste:

Brandy Daisy

2 oz quality brandy or cognac
3/4 oz homemade grenadine
juice of 1/2 lemon

Mix the first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Spritz with seltzer and serve.

This makes for a pleasant alternative to the Cosmopolitan. I plan to try it on my Cosmo- and Lemon Drop-drinking friends, to see if I can lure them away from vodka to other spirits.

Plus, at least a few of the antioxidants in the pomegranate juice must survive the syrup-making process. Even now they are repairing any damage the booze might have done to my organs. Or that’s what I prefer to believe.

I still don’t know why this drink is called a Daisy. The color resembles that of some Gerber daisies I’ve seen, but that can’t be it. Some versions are garnished with a pineapple and a cherry, but that still doesn’t work enough for me. I welcome any information on the source of the name.

Mixology Monday 23

For more brandy recipes and MxMo fun, check in with Sloshed! and see what all the other participants are drinking. Thanks to Marleigh for hosting this month!

UPDATE: Here is Marleigh’s summary of all the posts for MxMo 23. Twenty-nine at the current count! Watch out for a worldwide dip in brandy availability now that these recipes have hit.


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