A: Brandies, including fine Cognacs and Armagnacs can be enjoyed many different ways. One of my favorites is the classic sidecar, a refreshing blend of brandy, lemon/lime and triple sec.
If you have a cheap bottle (not recommeded) mix it with something, anything. Here’s a few drink recipes made with brandy. In some places, brandy is used instead of whiskey in many drinks. In Wisconsin, Old Fashions and Manhattans are routinely made with brandy.
The classic way to enjoy a well aged brandy is in a brandy snifter at room temperature. The drinker then holds the bowl of the snifter in the palm of his/her hand to gently warm the brandy and release all the aromas. Brandies are typically served in this fashion as an after dinner drink.
There is a general age rating system for brandies. This system is a good guide for cost and taste for selecting brandies:
AC – aged at least two years in a barrel
VS – “Very Special” – 3 year minimum in a barrel
VSOP – “Very Superior Old Pale” – 5 year minimum in a barrel
XO – Extra Old”, Napoleon or Vieille Reserve – 6 year minimum in a barrel
Vintage – Aged in the barrel and marked with the vintage date when bottled (kinda like wine)
Hors D’age – So old, don’t ask if you should mix it with coke. Really this is old shit, savor every sip!
Brandy can be enjoyed neat, in a cocktail, as a fine after dinner drink. So be sure to read the label and drink accordingly.