I could wax lyrical for hours about brandy as its one of my favourite spirits, but I'll spare you all that and suggest that for making cocktails you want a reasonable brandy, and unless the recipe calls for brandy from a particular region I'd stick with cognac. In fact I'll go further and say you want a V.S.O.P. Cognac. You can probably get away with a V.S. from one of the better houses if needs be. Don't forget if you wouldn't drink it neat why inflict it on a cocktail ?
I Mentioned in the Triple Sec Edition that it played it's part in several classics, today we'll look at the Sidecar, a gorgeous brandy cocktail.
Embury (one of the great cocktail writers) claims to have been involved in the origins of the sidecar and that it has several ingredients before being streamlined to its present form. He also adds that the standard American recipe of equal measures wrecks the drink entirely. The more perspicacious of you will have noted 2 similar but distinct drinks to the left. The furthest left is Harry Cradock's Sidecar
1 pt Lemon juice
1 pt Cointreau
2 pts Brandy
Shaken over ice & served.
The one on the right (in the glass with the wobbly stem) is Embury's all purpose sour-type recipe
1 pt Cointreau (or sweet in the general form)
2 pts Lemon juice (or sour in the general)
8 pts Brandy (or base spirit)
Shake over ice & serve.
The Embury recipe isn't that much stronger (in alcohol terms) than the Craddock recipe, differing by no more than 5% abv. In taste terms however its leagues apart, it's much drier and the Cognac comes through, just being smoothed by the other ingredients, if you are going the Embury route, you really need the good stuff. The Craddock sidecar is a more easy going drink, if you aren't upto very dry aperitif cocktails make that over Embury's.
If you want to try the standard which Embury rails against, its 1 pt lemon, 1pt Cointreau, 1pt brandy, but that is probably too sweet to be properly enjoyable.