If there were one kind of underutilized liquor style that we were to champion, it would be brandy. It's a common item to have on your bar cart, but it's not that common to drink it. Often, open bottles of the liquor are used only in splashes to deglaze a frying pan, but now it's time to break out the snifter.
There are many flavors of brandy that can all serve different purposes in a mixed drink. Fruit infusions typically complement other juices. Brandy made with pomace (the solid parts of fruit left over after they are pressed for oil), on the other hand, isn't aged and may appear clear in tint. It should be left to the imbiber's discretion which flavors to mix and match.
Brandy shares a lot of its DNA with wine, as it's distilled from fermented grapes, but it has a dark depth in both appearance and flavor. Some people may find its intensity only suitable for special occasions. Whip up any of these 10 brandy cocktails when you're entertaining during the holidays, or you're craving a warm pick-me-up on a cold day.
Brandy Ginger Twist Cocktail
The Recipe: Brandy Ginger Twist Cocktail
Why We Love It: Recipe creator Kate Ramos wanted this cocktail to be a special-occasion sipper. It offers the flavors of brandy, fresh ginger, pineapple gum syrup, lemon juice, and orgeat in each tangy, spicy swig. We definitely feel a little fancy sipping this warming drink.
Pro Tip: To make fresh ginger juice without a juicer, peel a piece of ginger using the back of a spoon, toss it in a food processor, then strain the ginger through a fine-mesh sieve.
Apple Brandy Allspice Fizz Cocktail
The Recipe: Apple Brandy Allspice Fizz Cocktail
Why We Love It: This brandy cocktail has the hallmarks of a holiday cocktail (namely, spice and fizz) while also being light and refreshing. The recipe starts by making an allspice simple syrup, which is combined with apple brandy, egg whites, club soda, apple juice, and lemon juice to create a frothy, effervescent cocktail.
Pro Tip: Use any leftover simple syrup to sweeten baked goods or as a topping for ice cream.
The Recipe: Chai Eggnog
Why We Love It: When an eggnog recipe is this simple, there's no reason to cut corners by buying the seasonal treat at the store. This modern interpretation of classic eggnog infuses the egg mixture (egg yolks, coconut milk, almond milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract) with the robust spices of chai tea. Enjoy the eggnog with a little brandy (and your favorite holiday movie).
Pro Tip: Refrigerate leftover eggnog in an air-tight container for up to three days.
When making homemade eggnog, ensure that the mixture reaches a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any bacteria in the eggs.
Bitter Sweet Sparkler
The Recipe: Bitter Sweet Sparkler
Why We Love It: This bittersweet sparkler cocktail implies festivities of the New Year's Eve variety, but its classy mix of champagne and brandy will elevate any occasion. This recipe also calls for a gentian liqueur called Suze, which was a popular French aperitif in the 19th century.
Pro Tip: Don't omit the garnish of fresh pear; it will become a cocktail-infused treat once you've finished imbibing.
New Orleans Brandy Milk Punch
The Recipe: New Orleans Brandy Milk Punch
Why We Love It: Brandy milk punch hails from New Orleans and has become one of a few classic cocktails that remind us of Mardi Gras. Creamy without being too heavy, this brandy cocktail calls for whole milk, powdered sugar, brandy, vanilla extract, and nutmeg. Simply add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice, then shake and serve.
Pro Tip: Dairy in the morning always makes sense, so try serving the milk punch during your next Sunday brunch.
Pumpkin Patch Punch
The Recipe: Pumpkin Patch Punch
Why We Love It: Zesty, sweet, and spicy, there's no shortage of flavors in this delectable concoction from Half Baked Harvest. Citrus and apple juice mingle with pumpkin butter and ginger beer and the requisite brandy and vodka. Drink extra responsibly with this one.
Pro Tip: Rim your glasses with a cinnamon-sugar mixture to give this brandy cocktail even more festive flair.
The Recipe: Zombie Cocktail
Why We Love It: Despite its name, this brandy drink tastes like a beach getaway rather than an episode of The Walking Dead—and who doesn't daydream about an island vacation? The type of brandy it calls for is flavored with apricot, a perfect balance to the orange, pineapple, and lime juices. It also features three different types of rum, sure to bring anyone back from the dead.
Pro Tip: To enhance the brandy drink's tropical vibes, garnish each glass with slices of fresh fruit and a mini umbrella.
The Recipe: Holiday Sangria
Why We Love It: Because this sparkling sangria was designed to be made ahead, it's perfect for holiday entertaining. Better still, the flavors intensify as the mixture sits, so it'll taste even better after chilling in the fridge for a day or two. And let's not overlook the fact that this brandy cocktail, with its ruby-red hue and bobbing pieces of fruit, is such a pretty sight to behold.
Pro Tip: For best results, use a high-quality red wine that you'd be happy to sip without any added ingredients.
If you're not sure which fruits to get, opt for citrus. Oranges are traditional (and ideal) for a holiday sangria because citrus season peaks in winter.
Glasgow Hot Toddy
The Recipe: Glasgow Hot Toddy
Why We Love It: Warm in both temperature and spice, the hot toddy is a cozy, comforting cocktail with an added perk: It's believed to help ward off a cold. In this recipe, the symptom-relieving trio of hot water, honey, and lemon is mixed with whiskey and cloves for a warming beverage that's best sipped beside a roaring fire on a brisk winter's day.
Pro Tip: While this recipe calls for whiskey, those new to the toddy should note that whiskey, rum, and brandy are interchangeable in the cocktail.
The Recipe: Christmas Sangria
Why We Love It: Fizzy and festive, this holiday sangria captures the feeling of the season in every glass. It combines all of our favorites, including red wine, brandy, and fresh fruit. Cloves and star anise give the brandy cocktail its spice.
Pro Tip: You can easily customize this recipe by adding more (or less) fruit or experimenting with different varieties of red wine until you land on a favorite.