Rim a small cocktail or sherry glass with sugar and set in the freezer to chill. Stir all ingredients with ice cubes. Strain into the chilled glass. Peel half a lemon in a continuous spiral over the glass. Express a little oil onto the drink, then set this peel into the drink so it uncoils around the sugared rim.
|Prep Time||2 minutes|
|Tags||1840-1880 (Cocktails Arrive), Aperitif, Elegant, New Orleans, Obscure|
|Strength||1.4 standard drinks|
If you order a Brandy Crusta in a bar you will usually just get a quizzical look. Order one in a craft cocktail bar (even during our current cocktail Renaissance) and you may still get a blank look or something slapped together with an orange peel in a Champagne flute. Let's just say I haven't had good luck ordering this drink. But I have had a great experience at home with this cocktail.
The Brandy Crusta was invented in the 1850's by a New Orleans bartender named Joe Santini. The drink's name refers to the "crust" of sugar on the rim of the serving glass. The Crusta is an ancestor to the Sidecar only with more Cognac and less sweetener and acid. Because the Cognac is on display with little supporting cast you need to use a quality product - look to VSOP here or a good Spanish brandy.
The Orange Curacao used by Santini would have probably been a brandy-based orange liqueur along the lines of Grand Marnier or Gran Gala. Don't go near the bottom shelf "Curacao". If it has a blue friend next to it run for the hills. A Brandy Crusta can also be made with maraschino as the sweetener. If anyone has tried it this way let us know what you think in the comments.
The Boker's bitters can be a little tricky. Ten years ago you would have been screwed. 150 years ago you could have used the real thing. Fortunately now there are a few reincarnations of Boker's being made. If you don't have any try a dash each of orange and Angostura bitters.
You may want to test out the glass you want to use to make sure it's not too big for the lemon peel (you're looking for about a 4 oz glass). You don't want the peel to just unwind and lie at the bottom of the drink. The peel is meant to look like a little citrus turret sticking up around the rim of the glass. This way you have the sweetness from the sugared rim and the complementary lemon oil from the peel in close proximity which is a feast for the senses.
Be careful with the amount of syrup you use. Few moments in the bar are worse than a Brandy Crusta out of balance - you see this beautiful drink that a bartender (or you) labored to make, take a sip and then yech! Since you only have 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, the syrup can make this drink overly sweet quite easily. I found 1 dash of syrup too little, and 1 teaspoon to be too much. Hence I have settled at 1/2 teaspoon.
When you make a Brandy Crusta, smell it as you drink it. Few thing smell better.
Camus VSOP Cognac, Gran Gala and Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Boker's Bitters. 3/12/2012