Brandy is what happens when wine stops screwing around and wants to get drunk. The most famous image of a financial elite enjoying life is sitting around a roaring a roaring fire with snifters and stogies, because “brandy and cigars” isn’t just how you enjoy succeeding at life, it’s a complete set of instructions on how to achieve that status. Because you can still taste brandy even when your face is full of burning herbs. And because even with all the riches and power in the world, there are still very few better things to do than drink brandy.
Many people grimace at brandy, considering it nothing more than mouthwash which forgot to be minty, but that’s because they’re stuck behind the brandy barricade (cousin of the well-established Whiskey Barrier). They think they might not like brandy, so they buy the cheapest stuff, and of course they don’t like the cheapest stuff. No-one does. It’s an antiholic self-fulfilling prophecy. Cheap brandy is intended for flambé. But that should spur you to investigate the drink, not avoid it. When a spirit is the answer to the question “How do I make this more delicious and on fire?” that’s a serious drink.
The flames burn off all the alcohol as they imbue the Christmas pudding with aromatics from the drink, and caramelize it to boot. When something has such powerful flavors that arson is only a delivery method, that’s a real drink.
It’s strong because it’s wine distilled down from around 8-12% to 30-70% alcohol by volume. This is wine with the quad damage powerup. All the aromatics of the vine, upgraded by those beautiful oak barrels which give us so many wonderful spirits, all concentrated into a fragrant fluid that’s now a psychological-superpower serum instead of a “glass of red.” Those huge tulip glasses don’t just let people pretend that they’ve been shrunk, though that’s fun (and an unfortunate side effect on some men who overindulge), to allow you to enjoy the scent before each sip.
The result is distilled warmth, in both alcohol and flavor. Setting it on fire is a mere flourish – the liquid already burns better than any flame.
It feels so good it’s been a base for medical elixirs throughout history, just to make sure the patient feels better. Because nobody ever complained about buying a bottle of brandy. It’s such a powerful restorative we invented the idea of St Bernard’s with barrels of brandy, roaming the mountains to dispensing drinks as the world’s most adorable barmen. We imagined the idea of rogue drink-dogs making the hills come alive with the sound of boozing just because brandy tastes so good. It never actually happened.
Brandy was given to those suffering from exposure to the cold, though that’s not medically the absolute best idea. But its only real error is restricting its application to treatment for exposure to cold. Brandy is the perfect cure for exposure to everything. Brandy helps us with exposure to existence, rendering this vast, cold universe into something comfier, cozier, and infinitely warmer.
Brandy is brilliant in a big glass, but that’s certainly not the only universe-upgrade delivery strategy. The best cocktails build with their big tastes, bracing powerful ingredients against each other to raise the taste of each to a new level. The two simplest and best brandy cocktails are the Stinger and the B & B. Both are happiness in a glass and incredibly easy to mix, simple 1:1 and stir or shake, and detailed in 5 Winter Cocktails For Fighting The Cold.
And with just a dash more work, you can make the classic…