Americans have always loved their brandy. Before Prohibition there were over 400 brandy distilleries in Kentucky and a couple of dozen whiskey distilleries that also made brandy. Most of Kentucky’s brandy production was fruit brandy – apple, peach and pear, but there were many grape brandy distilleries, not only in California, but Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania as well. Brandy cocktails were also popular in taverns and hotel bars across the nation. The Old Fashioned and the Sour were made with brandy as well as whiskey to name two, but there were many others. I thought I would look at the Johnson and Thomas cocktail books and provide some recipes for brandy cocktails.

Harry Johnson published his New and Improved Bartender’s Manual in 1888. Here are some of his recipes:

Brandy Crusta: (Use a large bar glass). Take a nice, clean lemon of the same size as your wine glass, cut off both ends of it, and peel it the way you would an apple, put the lemon peel in the wine glass, so it will line the entire inside of the glass, and dip the edge of the glass and lemon peel in pulverized sugar, take your mixing glass and mix as follows: 3 or 4 dashes of orchard syrup: 1 or 2 dashes of bitters (Baker’s genuine only); 4 or 5 drops of lemon juice; 2 dashes of Maraschino; ¾ of the glass filled with fine ice; 1 wine glass of brandy; stir up well with a spoon, strain it into the glass dressed with a little fruit, and serve.

Fancy Brandy Smash: (Use a large bar glass), ½ tablespoon of sugar; ½ wine glass of water or seltzers; 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh mint, dissolved well; ½ glass of shaved ice; 1 wine glass of brandy; stir up well with spoon, strain it into a fancy bar glass, and ornament it with a little fruit in season, and serve.

Brandy Fix: (Use a large bar glass), ½ tablespoon of sugar; 2 or 3 dashes of lime or lemon juice; ½ pony glass of pineapple syrup; 1 or 2 dashes of Chartreuse (green), dissolved well with a little water or seltzers; Fill up the glass with shaved ice; 1 wine glass of brandy; stir up with a spoon, and ornament the top with grapes and berries in season, and serve with a straw.

Brandy Fizz: (Use a large bar glass), ½ tablespoon of sugar; 3 or 4 dashes of lemon juice; ¾ of a glass of fine ice; 1 wine glass of brandy; mix well with a spoon, strain into a fizz or sour glass, fill with Vichy or seltzer water and serve.

Jerry Thomas published his The Bar-Tender’s Guide in 1887. Here are some of his brandy recipes:

Brandy Sling: (Use small bar glass), Take 1 small teaspoon of powdered white sugar, 1 wine glass of water, 1 small lump of ice, 1 wine glass of brandy. Dissolve the sugar in the water, add the brandy, and ice, stir well with a spoon. Grate a little nutmeg on top and serve.

Brandy Tom Collins: (Use small bar glass), Take 5 or 6 dashes of gum syrup, Juice of a small lemon, 1 large wine glass of brandy, 2 or 3 lumps of ice. Shake up well and strain into a large bar glass. Fill up the glass with plain soda water and imbibe while it is lively.

Brandy Scaffa: (Use small wine glass), Take ½ fine old brandy, ½ Maraschino, 2 dashes Angostura bitters.

Brandy Chamerelle: (Use small wine glass), Take 1/3 fine old brandy, 1/3 Curacoa, 1/3 Benedictine, 3 dashes Angostura bitters.

West India Couperee: (Use large soda glass), Take 1 ½ pony glass of brandy, 1 pony glass of Maraschino or Curacoa. Fill the glass 1/3 full of vanilla ice cream. Mix thoroughly, and fill the glass nearly full with plain soda. Grate a little nutmeg on top, and serve.

These recipes only call for brandy, so it is assumed that this is grape brandy. However, apple, peach, pear or some other fruit brandy could have been substituted to make these cocktails. There are many more recipes for brandy cocktails in these books, showing the popularity of brandy.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller