Spirit Review and Recipe: Copper and Kings American Brandy
American brandy distillation dates to 1630. Apples provided the source (in the South, peaches were often distilled). Jerry Thomas’ first cocktail book prominently featured the Brandy Crusta, and Sidecars, Brandy Alexanders, and the Wisconsin Old Fashioned have a place in the cocktail pantheon. But brandy always seems to be a historic footnote, the perpetual stepchild of the American distilled spirits. Thankfully, we are in the middle of a brandy renaissance, and will be featuring several of them in the next few months.
In the middle of Kentucky’s Bourbon Country, Copper and Kings decided to make brandy. Their flagship American Brandy is copper pot distilled and aged in bourbon and white oak barrels. We were struck by how distinctly American this is, more akin to bourbon to cognac.
Upon pouring, you can immediately smell the 45% ABV. A closer sniff tickles the nose hairs, with char, lots of vanilla, butter, almond, and coconut. It punches hard up front in the mouth, a touch rough, with plenty of vanilla, honey, and suede giving way to coconut, toffee, and caramel on the finish. Finish is mostly smooth, velvet with a frisky undertone. This is a great cocktail brandy, or drink on its own. It is wonderful in a sidecar, especially one with Meyer Lemon juice.
Spirit: American Brandy
Distiller: Copper and Kings
From: Louisville, Kentucky
Rating: 92 pts
Recipe: Sidecar cocktail
The Sidecar, like most simple sour cocktails, is easily to suit your taste. Want it sweeter? Add less citrus or more orange liqueur. Boozier or lighter? Dial up or dial down the brandy. Once you find your perfect ratio, you’re set. Try the following formula and adjust as needed.
1 ½ ounce Copper and Kings Brandy
¾ ounce lemon juice (we love Meyer Lemon juice for this cocktail, and they are widely available this time of year)
¾ ounce orange liqueur (for a cocktail with three ingredients, don’t go for the cheap stuff, Grand Marnier or Cointreau are recommended).
Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Serve in a martini or couple glass with a lemon or orange wedge for garnish. A sugared rim is often called for, but optional.
Sidecar photo by Evan Swigart