The Brandy Cocktail

Brandy cocktail with ice and lemon twist in a rocks glass

The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
181 Calories
0g Fat
5g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 181
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 8mg 39%
Calcium 8mg 1%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 11mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This brandy cocktail recipe is just one variation of the classic drink. It's incredibly easy to mix up, makes a great dinner drink, and is a fantastic way to show off a nice brandy. You can even use cognac, Armagnac, or any high-end brandy without worrying about damaging the spirit's quality. In fact, you will only be enhancing it with a few simple ingredients.

The formula found in this drink is the original definition of a cocktail: distilled spirit, sugar, water, and bitters. In this recipe, the curaçao liqueur acts as the sugar and the dilution from shaking it with ice is the water. There are even two types of bitters in this drink, which give the flavor a nice accent.

Technically, back in the late 1800s when this drink was a big hit, this recipe would be called a "fancy brandy cocktail" because it calls for a lemon peel. Bartenders of the day would have skipped the garnish if you simply ordered a "brandy cocktail."


Click Play to See This Classic Brandy Cocktail Come Together

"This shaken cocktail highlights all of its components beautifully. Sweet, candied orange flows into a river of aged grapes with swirls of baking spice and licorice. One of my favorite cocktails is a Sazerac (a stirred version of the brandy cocktail), and now I have another brandy cocktail to add to my favorites." —Sean Johnson

The Brandy Cocktail Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 ounces brandy

  • 1/2 ounce orange curaçao liqueur

  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters

  • 2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters

  • Lemon peel, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for the classic brandy cocktail recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour the brandy, curaçao, and bitters.

    Brandy being poured into cocktail shaker

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Shake well.

    Cocktail shaker being shaken

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

    Cocktail being strained into a rocks glass

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Garnish with a lemon peel. Serve and enjoy.

    Brandy cocktail being garnished with lemon twist

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi


  • Shaking the brandy cocktail is very common as it gives the drink extra dilution that marries the flavors rather nicely. As a liquor-only cocktail, you might prefer to stir rather than shake. Try it both ways to see which method you enjoy most.
  • If you pour a quality brandy, make sure your choice in orange curaçao follows suit. This is not a place to save money, because many of the least expensive brands are too sweet and will bring down the taste of this fine cocktail.
  • Ensure you pick up "orange" curaçao (which is actually clear) instead of the very popular blue option or the rare green.
  • Triple sec and brandy-based orange liqueurs (such as Grand Marnier) can be a substitute for curaçao. However, the same recommendation applies to the quality of the liqueur you pour. A better cocktail is made of quality ingredients all the way around, and it's even more important in a drink that's this simple.

Recipe Variations

  • In the early days of cocktails, you would order a basic "'cocktail" by calling the base spirit, and it would be made similar to this. For instance, drinkers would have ordered a gin cocktail or a whiskey cocktail, or almost any liquor of choice.
  • Angostura is a staple in most bars, but Peychaud's is not. It is worth picking up a bottle because it's essential as the bitters for famous classic drinks such as the Sazerac. However, if you don't have it, try another type. There's no true substitute, but this drink would be excellent with orange bitters or old-fashioned replicas like The Bitter Truth's Creole Bitters or Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter Bitters.

How Do You Properly Drink Brandy?

If for some reason you'd like to try this beverage neat, here are some good guidelines.

  • Drink brandy at room temperature in a snifter.
  • Don't dilute it with water or ice; it destroys the flavor.
  • Sniff the brandy, put your hands around the glass to warm it gently, and take small sips.

How Strong Is a Brandy Cocktail?

Many of the best old-fashioned drinks are not weak drinks. In fact, they tend to be higher in alcohol than many modern cocktail recipes because they rarely use nonalcoholic mixers. The brandy cocktail is no exception, and it averages out to around 30 percent ABV (60 proof). That's right in line with the martini and Manhattan and slightly under the bottling proof of the average brandy. Take it easy and savor each sip.