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Tag Archives: popeye doyle

Day 266, Cocktails 267 & 268

My journey into brandy based cocktails continues tonight with a pair of drinks that are similar but different.  However, before I dive into the cocktails, a bit about brandy.

What makes brandy (as well as cognac and armagnac) different from other spirits is that it is distilled from fermented grape juice (essentially wine) rather than grains.  Typically brandy is clear and picks up its brown color during the aging process in oak barrels (with the occasional addition of caramel coloring to provide product uniformity).  The French, being French, have specifically defined two regions of production where from the product is known as cognac and armagnac.  These two spirits are brandy, albeit very good brandy.

One last tidbit regarding brandy that you should be aware of is how aging is designated.  Unlike us Americans or the Brits, who simply put the number of years that a whiskey has been aged on the bottle, the French decided to be clever and use designations.  Those designations are:

  • V.S. (Very Special) – aged for a minimum of 2-1/2 years
  • V.O. (Very Old) – aged for a minimum of 4-1/2 years
  • V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale) – aged for as long as 10 years
  • V.V.S.O.P. (Very Very Special Old Pale) – aged longer than V.S.O.P.
  • X.O. (Extra Old) – a premium brandy or cognac

Cute, huh?

On to the drinks.  My first is the French Connection, although it does not bear any relation to the Gene Hackman flick of the same name.  In fact, I’m pretty sure Popeye Doyle wasn’t drinking brandy, but that’s just a hunch.

  French Connection

  • 2 oz brandy
  • 1 oz ameretto

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir to combine and chill.  Strain into a rocks glass with an ice ball or large ice cubes.

Well, that was simple, wasn’t it?  Very similar to the Godfather  and Godmother, this drink has a nutty, boozy flavor that will warm you up.  The sweetness that the amaretto imparts makes this a worthy after dinner drink to enjoy with your desert.

Next, I decided to strike out on my own with a similar, yet different cocktail.

  Orange Toffee

  • 2 oz brandy
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 drop English Toffee extract

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir to combine and chill.  Strain into a rocks glass with an ice ball or large ice cubes.

Mmmm, delicious.  A nice brandy backbone with orange and just a hint of toffee, this is also a very nice after dinner drink.  Slightly sweet because of the Cointreau, you probably won’t be drinking these all night long.  But to enjoy with a cigar after a fine meal, well, that’s just living right.

You might be wondering why I used a mixing glass when the final product ends up in a glass with ice.  Two reasons.  The first is to get a good, thorough mixing of the ingredients.  If you try to do this in the rocks glass you’ll most likely end up making a small mess (or in my case, a rather large mess).  The second is to get that initial dilution of the cocktail with water melted from the ice, especially when you use an ice ball in the drink like I do.  If you don’t have that initial dilution you will knock yourself over with the strength of the drink and won’t have nearly as pleasant an experience as you should have.