Brandy, She’s So Fine

What do renowned French writer Victor Hugo and New York hip-hop luminary Nas have in common? A way with words, for sure—but this unlikely pair is also united by their outspoken admiration for this month’s highlighted spirit.

There has been a spot reserved in the public imagination for what the Dutch called brandewijn, or “burnt wine,” since its creation. Crossing over from medicinal use to a more commercial enterprise in the early 1500s, what we now know as brandy was born when a Dutch trader faced with limited cargo space decided to extract the water from his stock of wine and add it back in upon arrival. That second step proved unnecessary when people got a taste of the complex, concentrated liquid, and this method of distilling wine (or double distilling it, for Cognac) caught on and spread throughout Europe—and eventually, the world over.

“Liquor of the gods,” “the water of life,” and “the drink of heroes” are just a few of the laudatory nicknames given to brandy over the years. Even more eloquent high praise came from Canadian novelist Robertson Davies, who said, “art is wine and experience is the brandy we distill from it.” All of this goes to show the ethereal, almost divine status that it’s held throughout history—and this month we too are loudly proclaiming that Brandy, She’s So Fine, and predicting that a sampling of these show-stopping drinks will have you joining the chorus. Subscribe now through January 1st to get this box—it’ll ship the week of January 7th.

For an alternative to winter’s typically bitter and boozy offerings, in this case one must Cherchez La Femme (“look for the woman”). Kellie Thorn has a way with brandy that’s fully on display in this bright and bubbly cooler that complements the woody and floral spirit with some traditional flavors of the season. This refreshing drink features accents of cardamom and a grenadine infused with tart cranberry and herbaceous juniper. Best enjoyed with a scarf and shades.

In 2010, Kellie Thorn opened Empire State South in Atlanta with celebrity chef Hugh Acheson, and three years later she became the Beverage Director for all of his restaurants. She is a BNIC Certified Cognac Educator and this year was named one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 Under 40.

For some behind-the-scenes tidbits from Kellie on her work, her love of brandy, and all about her cocktail, check out our interview.

There’s a campfire roaring, and Brice Hoffman’s Business Time sure has a winding yarn of a story to tell. Gather ’round and see how it utilizes texture and aroma to push the boundaries of category and season. Brandy’s punchy and fruity qualities are propped up by smooth, full-bodied egg white, and when it all comes together with the citrus, the warming flavors of cinnamon and orgeat, and the Angostura garnish, you’ll be scratching your head wondering—is this cozy winter spice? Is it funky, festive tiki? Well, it’s both.

This drink calls for a raw egg white (though the egg won’t be included in the box—we can’t ship those!—and we can recommend Ms. Better’s Miraculous Foamer as an alternative). Utilized properly, raw egg whites give cocktails a texture and body you can’t get any other way. They’re an important component of a traditional sour cocktail and have been used in classics for centuries. (Learn more in this egg-cellent blog post.)

Brice began his career in hospitality over a decade ago on the bustling streets of San Francisco. He has since moved to Nashville and helped to shape its growing cocktail scene.

The Mediterranean Toddy by Brian McCullough puts some unexpected yet harmonious flavors front and center. It’s based on the za’atar tea popular in the region, which has traditionally been used as a health supplement—Maimonides himself used to prescribe it to his patients back in the day. Warm honey, cinnamon, lemon zest, and a bouquet of fresh za’atar herbs transform hot water into a perfectly balanced base of sweet, spiced, and savory in which the complexity of brandy shines. Sip slowly and think of the rolling hills near the banks of the Aegean Sea.

Brian, a US Army veteran and proud father, was a finalist for GQ Magazine’s Bombay Sapphire Most Inspired Bartender 2010 and won the Eater Dallas Bartender of the Year title in 2013. He runs the bar consulting company Liquid & Logic Consulting.

You can leave your classy set of snifters in storage, because our re-release of the Brandy, She’s So Fine Box gives the spirit a star turn in intriguing, innovative formats. Is she so fine that she blows your mind? Sign up and see!

🌰🍯🌿,
The Shaker & Spoon Team

*not vegan: honey

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