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A warming after-dinner (or pre-dinner) drink.

Brandy, one of the world’s first distilled spirits, has been around since Roman times. With a name taken from the Dutch word “brandewijn,” meaning “burnt wine,” brandy was originally developed as a way to preserve and store wine for long ship journeys. To lighten the liquid and lessen the shipping tax, which was calculated by volume, the wine was distilled, concentrated and then put into wooden casks for transport.

Once the distilled wine reached its destination, water would be added back in to reconstitute the drink. But people found the spirit, which had been unintentionally aged in the wooden shipping casks during the journey, was better than the original.

For some reason, brandy is often overlooked in favor of vodka or whiskey when making cocktails — unless you live in Wisconsin, where a brandy Old Fashioned is the unofficial state drink. But brandy makes a great cocktail base, and will warm you right up on a cold winter night.

The Brandy Fix was a popular drink in the 1860s. A “fix” is a type of drink made on the rocks with a spirit, lemon juice and fruit juice or liqueur. Jerry Thomas was the first to write down this recipe in his Bon-Vivant’s Companion, published in 1862. This is one of my favorite drinks to have during the holidays and is very easy to make.


  • 2 oz. brandy
  • ½ oz. lemon juice
  • ½ oz. cherry brandy or Cherry Heering
  • 2 bar spoons (about 2 tsp.) triple sec


  1. Build ingredients in an Old Fashioned glass over ice. 
  2. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Photo by Jesse Fox

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