Brandyh for Bartenders

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Brandyh for Bartenders

Brandy for Bartenders

A love of brandy can verge on obsession. Just ask the brandy-aficionados – their eyes mist up at the mere mention of a particularly good Cognac or Armagnac. Their appreciation of good brandy is a sacred endeavour that is never pursued casually. The day will come when someone like this will walk into your bar. And if they do – good luck! Your tips will be reliant on a sound knowledge of all aspects of brandy. So, it’s best to get learning! Here are some essential brandy facts for bartenders.

The History of Brandy

The word “brandy” is derived from the Dutch, “brandewijn,” meaning “burnt wine.” It was first produced in the 12th century as a product of ancient distillation methods that were initially used by the ancient Persians. Brandy was “discovered” by accident when Dutch vintners distilled ordinary barrels of wine for preservation. Little did they know that when the distilled wine was stored in wood casks, various unusual and enjoyable flavours emerged. The dehydration process also exposed a range of complex aromas that would otherwise have been hidden.

And so, brandy was born! These days, brandy appears alongside the produce of the world’s top wine-producing countries. Some of the best global producers are France, Spain, Portugal, South Africa and even the Californian wineries of the United States.

How to Enjoy Brandy

In Europe, brandy enthusiasts insist on enjoying it neat, or on the rocks. High quality brandies benefit from being served at room temperature, and only in Snifter or Tulip Glasses. A snifter is easy to recognise – it is a short-stemmed glass with a wide, balloon-like bottom and a pinched, narrow top.

Ergonomically, it’s the perfect shape for cupping and swilling. In fact, connoisseurs will tell you that a glass of brandy needs to be lovingly held in the palm and swilled so as to increase its temperature. Ever-so-slightly warmed brandy will unleash some intoxicating vapours and enhance its overall enjoyment.

Brandy also features in some of the world’s most timeless cocktails. The Sidecar, Brandy Alexander and Brandy Daisy were all initially made compliment the warm, oaky flavours of brandy with the sweetness and tanginess of orange and lime. In South America and other countries of the New World, brandy is enjoyed with a variety of mixers like cola or club soda – much to the chagrin of the purists!

Brandy Types from Around the World

No conversation of brandy will be complete without a reverential mention of Cognac. This distinctive French brandy can only be produced in the Cognac region of South Western France. It is double-distilled using pot stills. Some of the world’s most celebrated Cognac brands include Martell, Camus, Remy Martin and the illustrious Courvoisier.

Armagnac comes a close second with it comes to the prestige of France’s brandy heritage. It also comes from South-West France and is uniquely distilled in a continuous process through copper sills. It is stored in oak casks. Examples of Armagnac include Gascony and Limousin.

Spain boasts its own unique brandy heritage. Brandy de Jerez is a well-loved variation that is exclusively produced in Andalucía. Stored in European oak casks, Jerez de la Frontera is a popular brand that is appreciated throughout Spain and beyond. The Spanish love of brandy was taken to South America at in the 15th and 16th centuries, marking the emergence of Pisco. Pisco is a powerful brandy that can be found in any jovial Chilean or Peruvian bar.