The Brandy Crusta
Rim a small-mouthed glass with a cut lemon wedge, coating the outside of the glass with juice.
Dip the glass in superfine sugar to create a crust on the outside of the glass.
Peel a long, wide swath of lemon peel, enough to completely circle the inner rim of the glass.
Fill glass half-way with crushed ice.
Shake above ingredients and strain into prepared glass.
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Plot a road trip from Cocktail to Sidecar, and the Brandy Crusta will be your half-way point. Like any good roadside attraction, it promises the prefect balance between a quick respite and exciting refreshment. After detailing the Sidecar in my last post, I thought it only fitting to offer up the drink that parented it. Though the Sidecar may be an evolution of the Crusta, I’d happily take the latter over the former any day.
I won’t go into too much detail about the history of the Crusta. It is, as stated above, a slim variation on a Fancy Cocktail (a Cocktail with Orange Liquour added). Take away the lemon, and that’s exactly what you’ve got. One lessen I learned in my early Margarita mixing days was that when people complain that a Margarita is too strong, it’s often due to an abundance of lime juice. Citrus is a strong ingredient, and casting it about without thought or consideration can make a great drink go sour very quickly. I take my Crusta recipe from Jerry Thomas as interpreted by David Wondrich. The lemon is there as an accent (it’s not a sour afterall), and a single teaspoon does wonders.
I also like to think that the Crusta reminds us of the craftsmanship of Victorian Age bartenders. This is no glass of gin with a little vermouth waved over it; this is a precisely compounded elixir. The Crusta is all about balance — each flavor bringing out the best in the others. And, boy, is it a wonderfully balanced and delicate beauty.
Variations: Gin, rum, whiskey versions of the Crusta all enjoyed some brief acclaim, but only the brandy version has survived. There’s probably good reason for this, but knock yourself out. Replace the bitters with Angostura as warranted (for gin and rum).