Brandy may no longer hold the clout it once did with Americans, but anyone interested in making countless pre-Prohibition cocktails (as well as a growing number of modern classics) needs a few bottles of cocktail-ready eau-de-vie on hand. Yet, many brandies are too expensive or too niche to play well in mixed drinks, and the category can seem a bit overwhelming. Given how widely brandies vary in style and price, we gathered nine bottles that go great in cocktails, no matter what you’re mixing.
COBRAFIRE EAU-DE-VIE ($52)
If you’ve never tried blanche Armagnac, get ready for a rollercoaster of flavor. The white spirit (rested for three months in steel containers) sits somewhere between more familiar brandies, pisco and rhum agricole. It’s tropical, grassy and a touch funky but, in the case of Cobrafire, also surprisingly creamy. It’s the rare bottle that works equally well in a Daiquiri and a Sidecar.
PAUL BEAU V.S. COGNAC ($42)
For something slightly heavier in flavor and tradition, try Paul Beau cognac. The estate dates back to 1914 but still wins over modern bartenders with its strong fruity profile. In the V.S., candied plums and light chocolate on the nose give way to lots of caramel, almond and citrus, making the cognac excellent for stirred brandy cocktails like a Vieux Carré or Brandy Old Fashioned.