Generally, when people think of fine brandies, their minds tend to go to Cognac, the legendary spirit-producing region near the west coast of France. But while cognacs tend to dominate the conversation around European brandies, their relatives to the south just might be better for cocktails. Generally more affordable, especially for the younger ones, the bold and assertive profile of Armagnac comes through clear in drinks like the cleverly named Twist My Armagnac. With a bit of vodka and pineapple to tease out Armagnac’s subtleties, it’s a great introduction for those who have never used the spirit in a cocktail.
Bartending veteran Brian Means developed the Twist My Armagnac while working at San Francisco’s Dirty Habit. In it, he uses Tariquet Classique VS Armagnac, a relatively affordable but high quality example of the style. Despite it being an Armagnac drink, however, the base is split between it and vodka—specifically Belvedere vodka. As with most vodka drinks, especially those with a number of other ingredients, feel free to substitute whatever vodka you most like using for the Belvedere, if desired.
Pineapple juice adds even more brightness to bring out the fruity notes of Armagnac. You can use canned pineapple juice, but fresh squeezed will add more floral and tart elements. The drink is balanced with a bit of lemon juice for additional tangy acid and a rich demerara syrup, which brings more depth and warmer flavors than a traditional white sugar simple syrup.
The Twist My Armagnac is a great introduction to the lauded French brandy style. If it does its job and convinces you to love Armagnac, you can try the brandy in recipes like a Brandy Old Fashioned, replace some or all of the rye whiskey or cognac in a Sazerac or use it in Sazerac variations like the Saz With a Sting.
- 3/4 ounce Belvedere vodka
- 3/4 ounce Tariquet Classique VS Armagnac
- 3/4 ounce pineapple juice
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/4 ounce rich (two-to-one) demerara syrup
- Garnish: pineapple slice
Add the vodka, Tariquet Classique VS Armagnac, pineapple juice, lemon juice and rich demerara syrup into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube.
Garnish with a pineapple slice.