Why Brandy Is The Best Friendly Fire

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.

“Get rid of this money, it’s distracting me from the good stuff.”

“Get rid of this money, it’s distracting me from the good stuff.”

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.

You can upmacho any dessert by adding booze and fire. Bonus points if the booze fuels the fire.

You can upmacho any dessert by adding booze and fire. Bonus points if the booze fuels the fire.

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.

He looks disappointed.

He looks disappointed.

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.

It makes the best times better too.

It makes the best times better too.

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

Metropolitan

  • 1 ½ oz brandy
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • ½ tsp simple syrup/ 1 tsp superfine sugar
  • 2 dashes angustora bitters

Shake with ice and serve in a chilled cocktail glass.

Every spirit has a Manhattan variant, because everything in existence wants to have or be part of the Manhattan, the greatest cocktail in the world. (You can skip the syrup for a true Brandy Manhattan). This masterpiece of mixology is used with every drink because it gives body to the base spirit, creating something which can interact with more people. Starting on the foundation flavor, it adds a vermouth viewing deck and a bracing handrail of bitters, so people can spend longer drinking in the great flavor landscape of the original alcohol.

But sometimes you don’t want to deal with the drink at all.

EMERGENCY BRANDY DISPOSAL:

It’s a common problem: you buy a bottle of brandy from the bottom of the barrel “because it’s only for cooking.”  It doesn’t matter if eastern European armies use the same stuff to degrease tank axles, you’ll only ingest it after hours of cooking with other ingredients – and then you’re stuck with half a bottle in the cabinet for the next two years.  It doesn’t deserve the honor of being a dusty bottle, but pouring drink down the drain without kidney-filtering it first is a sin, so what can you do?

You can cocktail the original taste right out of it…

Commodore Cocktail

  • 1 ½ oz brandy
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • ½ oz crème de cassis
  • lemon twist (cut the twist before juicing the lemon)

Shake with ice and serve in a chilled cocktail glass.

brandycassis Why Brandy Is The Best Friendly Fire

If life gives you lemons, you’re enjoying a pretty blessed winter.
Photo: Luke McKinney for Man Cave Daily

This is perfect for poor brandies, and in fact should only be used with bad brandy because it annihilates the original taste so utterly.  With a one-to-one ratio of “brandy” to “intensely fruit flavored tang” even the worst stain-eliminating solvent is reduced to its useful component: alcoholic fire-weight under refreshing citric sourness. The Commodore converts chemical waste into something enjoyably imbibable. Which was the point of all distillation in the first place.


bonusround2 Why Brandy Is The Best Friendly Fire

Luke McKinney writes about games, drink, science, and everything else that makes life amazing. He’s a columnist on Cracked and writes for several beer magazines. He’s also available for hire. Follow him onTumblr and Twitter @lukemckinney.

Last time you went out drinking together, Luke taught you The Truth About Tequila.

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, fl--NO. YOU KEEP DRINKING THAT TEQUILA YOU DON'T GET TO QUIT YET.

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, fl–NO. YOU KEEP DRINKING THAT TEQUILA YOU DON’T GET TO QUIT YET.

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