Friday, March 12, 2010

Brandy Champagne Cocktail (Drink # 11)

I played basketball tonight.  Due to the random nature of picking teams (first 5 free throws hit are one team, the second 5 are the other team), I had to guard a guy who was 6 inches taller than me.  I'm 6' tall.  This guy was 6'6".  It was not a fair match-up.

It was so unfair that I would laugh every time he got the ball in the paint.  I couldn't help it.  I wasn't alone either.  I was the tallest guy on our team.  Everyone else was around 5'9" to 5'10", so they weren't crazy-small or anything, but still, I was stuck with the very tall former collegian.  Awesome.

We lost the first game, quickly.

After I got home from the game, I found Barca, the Official Mascot of The Amateur Mixologist was a wet mess after playing outside in the rain.  She is the Official Mascot, but even Official Mascots aren't allowed on the coach when soaking wet.

All was not lost - I was still looking forward to the Brandy Champagne Cocktail, which combines a few things that I really enjoy...

The Ultimate Bar Book, page 151

Brandy Champagne Cocktail

1 sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1/2 ounce brandy
3 to 5 ounce chilled champagne
Lemon twist

In the bottom of a chilled champagne flute, soak the sugar cube with the bitters.  Pour in the brandy, and slowly top with champagne.  Run the lemon peel around the rim, twist it over the drinks, and drop it in.

As first noted in the Sidecar post, I'm a fan of brandy.  I'm also a fan of Angostura bitters.   Champagne ain't bad either - making any evening feel like it's more important than the random Thursday evening that it truly is. 

Even though I like the ingredients in this drink, it is a weird combination, and the results are pretty mediocre.  It kind of tastes like a ginger beer, or a screwed up craft-produced cream soda or root beer.

Let's start with the bitters. As mentioned in the Old Fashioned post, Angostura bitters with sugar produces a really strong and vibrant summer spice scent.  But, a little goes a long way. The brandy and champagne (or in this case, sparkling wine) don't really add much flavor to counteract the spice, and as a result, the drink is really pungent, sweet and overpowering - in the same way I find many ginger beers to be overpowering.

Sadly too, the lemon twist added nothing. 

This drink doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  Is the sugar meant to sit at the bottom, sometimes floating up the side when the glass is turned up for a drink?  Brandy is, on a relative scale, a sweeter 80 proof alcohol, as far as 80 proof alcohols go.  The recipe couples a sweeter liquor with sugar and bitters (which despite the name, actually adds a sweetness - a complex sweetness, kind of like licorice jelly beans, but sweetness nonetheless), and then, top it off with champagne.  It's just too sweet, and the flavor isn't particularly good. 

If you needed a champagne or sparkling wine drink, I'd stick with the Velvet Champagne d'Amour.

On the bright side, this weekend should be filled with St. Patrick's Day parties, Irish Coffees, and more warm weather.  Have a great weekend, stay safe...we'll be back on Sunday with new drinks for next week!


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