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Old 03-26-2020, 05:19 PM
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Substitute brandy for cognac?


I've mentioned we like Vieux Carré cocktails. I have rye, sweet vermouth, and Benedictine liqueur; but I have no cognac. Sauce is expensive here in Washington, but I can get 750 ml of Courvoisier at Bevmo! for $33 plus tax. But I can get brandy cheaper, and without the 50-mile round-trip drive. (It seems the only other local option is Hennessy, which is expensive.)

So... Can I substitute brandy for cognac in this cocktail?
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Old 03-26-2020, 05:35 PM
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Sure. Cognac is just brandy made in Cogna, France.
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Old 03-26-2020, 05:48 PM
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Yes you can, if you really have to. Better to step UP your game and substitute an armagnac instead. Bang for the buck the best brandy on the market. Well....second best. Presidente still holds down #1.
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Old 03-26-2020, 06:02 PM
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The one advantage of brandy over cognac: it's the cure-all for each and every medical emergency (at least according to Hollywood films of a certain vintage).
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Old 03-26-2020, 06:09 PM
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Brandy! Throw more brandy!
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Old 03-26-2020, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Yes you can, if you really have to. Better to step UP your game and substitute an armagnac instead. Bang for the buck the best brandy on the market. Well....second best. Presidente still holds down #1.
You shouldn’t mix...things...into your Armagnac. Any addition would be a diminishment.

If I were making a brandy cocktail — unlikely — I would probably use a California brandy. Cognac or Armagnac would be like mixing a $100 single malt Scotch whisky into a Rob Roy.
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Old 03-26-2020, 06:45 PM
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Nah. You can find a decent armagnac out there for +/- $30 American, and for a Vieux Carré you only need a little. Then you have a nice sipper as well. Or you can just but the Presidente and be done with it.
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Old 03-26-2020, 07:41 PM
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If I were making a brandy cocktail — unlikely — I would probably use a California brandy...
I've always been amused by the fact that Wisconsin's Brandy Old-Fashioneds are made with Korbel, from California.

But then I bought a bottle (wow, brandy is ridiculously cheap) and it's become my daily mixer (Coke, Klarbrunn or Squirt with bitters). And my quarantined son and I did shots of Korbel via Skype the other night.

Last edited by digs; 03-26-2020 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 03-26-2020, 07:57 PM
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So... Can I substitute brandy for cognac in this cocktail?
You could do worse.

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Old 03-26-2020, 08:09 PM
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I've always been amused by the fact that Wisconsin's Brandy Old-Fashioneds are made with Korbel, from California.

But then I bought a bottle (wow, brandy is ridiculously cheap) and it's become my daily mixer (Coke, Klarbrunn or Squirt with bitters). And my quarantined son and I did shots of Korbel via Skype the other night.
Korbel is my back-up brandy in case I run out of E&J for my morning coffee. Flambés nicely as well.
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Old 03-27-2020, 12:29 AM
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French version
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Old 03-27-2020, 02:25 AM
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I've always been amused by the fact that Wisconsin's Brandy Old-Fashioneds are made with Korbel, from California.
I used to live up the road from Korbel and often drove there to treat family and friends or just bicycled in for tastes. They used to sell brandy in unmarked pocket flasks for a buck. MrsRico's grandma, an old union gal, sure loved it, usually taking a few dozen home to San Francisco. Just the right size for hiding in her purse to sneak into the plant.
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Old 03-27-2020, 02:45 AM
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I've found E&J XO to be a serviceable mixing brandy, and it's obtainable in WA for under $20 a bottle after tax.
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Old 03-27-2020, 07:21 AM
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I used to live up the road from Korbel and often drove there to treat family and friends or just bicycled in for tastes...
If that's their property on the Russian River, it's in one of the most beautiful, bucolic parts of the US. Never walked in, as we were usually busy canoeing, but very pretty.

Silenus, I would've thought Armagnac would've had too much character for the use Johnny L.A. wants. Though I've not had a Vieux Carré and maybe the added oomph makes it better?
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Old 03-27-2020, 07:26 AM
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I knew someone who bred St. Bernards for the brandy. It was very good brandy.
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Old 03-27-2020, 08:56 AM
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You shouldn’t mix...things...into your Armagnac. Any addition would be a diminishment.

If I were making a brandy cocktail — unlikely — I would probably use a California brandy. Cognac or Armagnac would be like mixing a $100 single malt Scotch whisky into a Rob Roy.
There's lots of cocktail-grade Cognac out there; stuff like Maison Rouge, Claude Chatelier, etc... And/or you don't have to buy Napoleon or XO for cocktails- in most cases, VS or VSOP will do the job just fine.

And for a Vieux Carre, I'd wager that the quality of the rye and sweet vermouth are going to be far more prominent than the quality of the cognac.
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Old 03-27-2020, 09:49 AM
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I knew someone who bred St. Bernards for the brandy. It was very good brandy.
This brings to mind a whole set of disturbing images....
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Old 03-27-2020, 10:06 AM
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Speaking of Brandy cocktails, just learned of a new twist on a Negroni:

1oz Brandy
1oz Sweet Italian Vermouth
1oz Campari

Over ice. Garnish with orange peel.
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Old 03-27-2020, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Smapti View Post
I've found E&J XO to be a serviceable mixing brandy, and it's obtainable in WA for under $20 a bottle after tax.
When you're mixing rye, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, and a couple of kinds of bitters, It occurred to me that something like E&J might be adequate.
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Old 03-27-2020, 11:09 AM
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When you're mixing rye, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, and a couple of kinds of bitters, It occurred to me that something like E&J might be adequate.
Yep. There comes a point where it's just more octain.
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Old 03-27-2020, 12:07 PM
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Silenus, I would've thought Armagnac would've had too much character for the use Johnny L.A. wants. Though I've not had a Vieux Carré and maybe the added oomph makes it better?
This is where the fun happens. We have no idea the quality of ingredients Johnny L.A. has on hand, so he'll have to experiment and report back his findings. First with E&J, then with something with a bit more character.

For Science!
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Old 03-27-2020, 12:55 PM
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We have no idea the quality of ingredients Johnny L.A. has on hand...
Bulleit Rye
B&B DOM Benedictine liqueur
Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth (Also Trader Joe's sweet vermouth)
Peychaud's bitters
Angostura bitters.
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Old 03-27-2020, 01:47 PM
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E&J ought to be fine in that cocktail.

If I was going to advance the drink from Double AA to Triple A, I'd use Dolin sweet vermouth instead of the Martini & Rossi. But that's just me.
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Old 03-27-2020, 10:20 PM
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Here's a vermouth PSA for all lovers of fine drink... vermouth is just an aromatized wine, not a true spirit. And just like wine, it goes bad once opened. Keep it in the fridge once opened, and figure on a three month shelf life.

https://drinkhacker.com/2009/01/21/h...vermouth-last/
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Old 03-28-2020, 09:05 AM
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E&J ought to be fine in that cocktail.

If I was going to advance the drink from Double AA to Triple A, I'd use Dolin sweet vermouth instead of the Martini & Rossi. But that's just me.
Thanks.

Sweet vermouth seems to be somewhat limited here. I've only seen Martini & Rossi (which I understand is the world's most popular brand) at Bevmo! and the little liquor store down the beach. The supermarkets seem to only carry Gallo. Trader Joe's has Sole brand. Granted, I've only started looking for sweet vermouth; but IME choices are limited here. I found this page. It says Gallo is for when you can't find anything else. Sole (D'Aquino) is slightly better. Martini & Rossi is 'tasty and reliable' and 'best bang for the buck'.

Anyway, I picked up a bottle of E&J brandy (the only brand they had at Rite-Aid, $13 I think) yesterday.
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Old 03-30-2020, 01:25 PM
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Thanks.

Sweet vermouth seems to be somewhat limited here. I've only seen Martini & Rossi (which I understand is the world's most popular brand) at Bevmo! and the little liquor store down the beach. The supermarkets seem to only carry Gallo. Trader Joe's has Sole brand. Granted, I've only started looking for sweet vermouth; but IME choices are limited here. I found this page. It says Gallo is for when you can't find anything else. Sole (D'Aquino) is slightly better. Martini & Rossi is 'tasty and reliable' and 'best bang for the buck'.

Anyway, I picked up a bottle of E&J brandy (the only brand they had at Rite-Aid, $13 I think) yesterday.
Nothing wrong with Martini & Rossi- it's solid if unspectacular. If you want a sweet vermouth that will raise your game, get a bottle of Carpano Antica. Basically it's a sweet vermouth with a flavor profile that doesn't get lost under rye whiskey and bitters.
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Old 03-30-2020, 02:03 PM
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Nothing wrong with Martini & Rossi- it's solid if unspectacular. If you want a sweet vermouth that will raise your game, get a bottle of Carpano Antica. Basically it's a sweet vermouth with a flavor profile that doesn't get lost under rye whiskey and bitters.
Here are the regulars that I get at the BevMo down the street. Carpano Antica is my go-to, with the Cocchi being my standby alternate.
  • Carpano Antica - very rich, complex, sweet with only moderate bitterness
  • Punt e Mes - quite bitter but balanced with a strong sweetness
  • Cocchi Vermouth de Torino - complex and pungent in a good way, maybe not as sweet as Antica
  • Vya - much more bitter without being overwhelming, works with rye or high-rye bourbons
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