Brandy Crusta Recipe

The Brandy Crusta recipe is a classic from 1800s New Orleans. Learn how to make an Brandy Crusta Cocktail with our expert mixologists.
Brandy Crusta Recipe

Method

Shaken

Glass

Brandy or Wine Glass

Category

Brandy

Brandy Crusta Recipe Ingredients

60ml Cognac
10ml Curaçao
7.5ml Maraschino Liqueur
15ml Lemon Juice
15ml Sugar Syrup
Dash Angostura Bitters
Lemon, to peel
Sugar, for garnish

How to make a Brandy Crusta Cocktail

First frost the brandy or small wine glass with sugar. You can find out our expert tips on frosting cocktail glasses here.

Chill the glass with ice.

Take a lemon, and slowly remove the entire peel in one slice. Carefully pare the slice (use a knife to remove the pith on the inside, leaving just the skin of the fruit).

Take the Cognac, Curaçao, Maraschino Liqueur, Lemon Juice, and Sugar Syrup and add to a cocktail shaker with ice.

Add 1-2 dashes of Angostura Bitters.

Shake well until the shaker is cold and has a frosting of icy condensation on the outside.

Remove the ice from the glass and line the lemon peel around the inside of the glass.

Use a hawthorn strainer to strain the mix into the chilled glass.

Tell us about the Brandy Crusta Recipe

Picture the scene: New Orleans, Louisiana deep in the American south. It’s the 1840s, just prior to the American Civil War.

The Brandy Crusta is credited to Joseph Santini, bar manager at the City Exchange.

Sources credit the City Exchange with creating the “free lunch”. In the middle of the 19th century, a phenomenon of saloon bars offering a free lunch to any patron purchasing a drink began to occur.

You’ll have heard the common saying espousing that there is no such thing, and as with most things there was a catch. The foods offered were high in salt, meaning those who ate them were likely to order an extra beer to quench their thirst.

It’s also likely that those establishments offering the free lunch charged higher prices for their drinks.

New Orleans, Louisiana. Postcard view of the St. Louis Hotel AKA the City Exchange Hotel formerly Hotel Royal, and home to the Brandy Crusta recipe, dated 1906.
Postcard of the City Exchange Hotel formerly Hotel Royal, and home to the Brandy Crusta recipe, dated 1906. Source: Wiki

 

As noted in our history of cocktails, the first drinks to be labelled as a cocktail were akin to an Old Fashioned: liquor, with a little sugar, a dash of bitters, and water.

Once technology meant that ice was readily available in bars, cocktails began to evolve, with techniques like shaking becoming prominent.

Then, by the mid-1800s, bartenders like Santini started incorporating fruit juices, and European spirits.

The Brandy Crusta is of its time in that it’s the culmination of all these techniques and influences.

The City Exchange is now known as the Omni Royal Orleans, and is a great tourist spot for cocktail enthusiasts.

Expert Tip

When peeling the lemon start at the middle of the fruit and work slowly outwards to the top.

It’s better to cut further into the fruit, and then lay the peel out and remove this afterwards. This reduces the risk of the peel ripping.

If you’re struggling with the spiral method, take the lemon and simply run your knife around the middle of the fruit. Move down an inch and repeat.

You’ll get less peel than with the spiral method, but you’ll have a nice, thick peel which is less likely to rip.

What to drink next

For those looking to further capture the feel of old school Louisiana, look no further than the Vieux Carré, made with brandy, whiskey and sweet vermouth.

It’s also well worth trying an Old Fashioned. Not only is it a deliciously simple drink, but it’s interesting to contract the two drinks and see how the art of the cocktail evolved over time.

For Cognac lovers, the Brandy Alexander is a must-try, as is the classic Sidecar.

If you like your tiki cocktails, the Fog Cutter is a lovely cocktail that incorporates brandy, rum, gin, and lemon into a heady mix.

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