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Ten Brandy Cocktails to Drink in the Bay Area

Ranked in order from the classic to the cutting-edge.


Opulence at Acme Bar & Company.

(1 of 6)

Vietnamese Hot Coffee with Brandy at the Slanted Door.

(2 of 6)

Honeymoon at Gaspar Brasserie.

(3 of 6)

Goodfella at the Miranda.

(4 of 6)

Pootie Tang at Pacific Cocktail Haven.

(5 of 6) 

I've Grown to Love Life Too Much, at the Interval at Long Now.

(6 of 6)

Read more about California’s brandy renaissance here.

1. Opulence at Acme Bar & Company

Cognac makes a great stand-in for the rye or bourbon whiskey in many classic cocktails, including the Sazerac, the mint julep, and the old-fashioned. Acme’s new menu of Manhattan variations includes the Opulence (cognac, sherry-cask-aged sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, Jamaican bitters, lemon peel), which apes a “perfect” Manhattan, meaning it calls for both sweet and dry vermouth. 2115 San Pablo Ave. (Near Addison St.), Berkeley, 510-644-2226

2. Vietnamese Hot Coffee with Brandy at the Slanted Door
Irish coffee, Spanish coffee, Mexican coffee: Why not a boozy Vietnamese variation? The Slanted Door’s take on Vietnamese coffee is spiked with American grape brandy, sweetened condensed milk, and a float of organic whipped cream. It’s the ideal drink to cozy up to on a chilly winter morning—but, given the Bay weather, it’s on the menu year-round. Ferry Building Marketplace (Embarcadero At Market St.), 415-861-8032

3. Bombay Cocktail at Trou Normand
At least half of the cocktails on the menu at Trou Normand at any one time are made from the private selection of cognac, calvados, and armagnac. You really can’t go wrong, but we’re especially fond of the sophisticated and more-than-a-little-boozy Bombay Cocktail (armagnac, two vermouths, curaçao, absinthe). 140 New Montgomery St. (Near Minna St.), 415-975-0876

4. Honeymoon at Gaspar Brasserie
The beautiful Cognac Room inside Gaspar serves up what may well be the largest selection of brandy drinks in the city along with a few creative flights. The cocktails are a blend of originals and classics like the Honeymoon (calvados, Bénédictine, curaçao, lemon), an overlooked vintage drink with notes of cinnamon and other baking spices. 185 Sutter St. (At Kearny St.), 415-576-8800

5. Goodfella at the Miranda
Aged brandy works astonishingly well with whole-egg cocktails such as nogs and flips. The Miranda’s Goodfella (aged American grape brandy, biscotti liqueur, ginger beer syrup, whole egg, black pepper) is a thick and luscious meal in a glass—the protein shake of cocktails. 1739 Broadway (Near 19th St.), Oakland, 510-740-5760

6. Oro en La Paz at the Devil’s Acre
A recent addition to this North Beach cocktail bar’s apothecary-inspired menu, the Oro en La Paz (shiso-infused Bolivian brandy, fermented pineapple, pineapple gum syrup, lime, salt) is a juicy and herbaceous remedy, served in a zombie glass. 256 Columbus Ave. (At Broadway), 415-766-4363

7. Pootie Tang at Pacific Cocktail Haven
In an era of brown, bitter, and booze-heavy cocktails, PCH’s silky tropical concoctions are a welcome respite. Brandy gets treated with the same light touch as other spirits, as in the popular Pootie Tang (pineapple-infused cognac, sake, coconut, absinthe, bitters). 580 Sutter St. (Near Mason St.), 415-398-0195

8. I’ve Grown to Love Life Too Much at the Interval at Long Now
One of several brandy cocktails on the menu at the combination think tank and coffee-cocktail bar at Fort Mason, this drink (cognac, spiced pear liqueur, crème de cacao, salt solution, sparkling wine chaser) was inspired by a scene in The Brothers Karamazov and tastes like a chocolate-covered pear with bubbles on the side. Fort Mason Center For Arts & Culture (Marina Blvd. Near Laguna St.), Bldg. A, 415-496-9187

9. Concrete Slippers at Junior
Mission district newcomer Junior opened over the winter with three brandy drinks on the menu, including the Concrete Slippers (apple brandy, ancho chili liqueur, ginger, lemon, Cherry Heering, bitters)—the rare spicy apple drink that’s served tall over ice. 2545 24th St. (Near Utah St.)

10. Wicker Punch at Rye
French brandies get most of the attention, but keep an eye out for lower-priced, intensely flavored Spanish brandies that are aged using the solera system, similar to the one used to make sherry. At Rye, the Wicker Punch (Spanish brandy, Amaro Montenegro, pamplemousse liqueur, lemon, honey, seltzer) livens up a 10-year-old brandy with grapefruit and honey. 688 Geary St. (At Leavenworth St.), 415-474-4448


Originally published in the April issue of San Francisco 

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