The History Of The Brandy Crusta.
First printed in the 1862 Bartenders Guide by Jerry Thomas, the Brandy Crusta is old as it is delicious. The Crusta is considered one of the oldest fancy sours and is named for its decorative sugar-crusted rim. It was invented in the 1850s by Joseph Santini in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, and was made to try and improve the taste of the standard sour cocktail. You can spot a crusta by its oversized decorative lemon peel that imparts that this is a special elevated sour cocktail.
What Does The Brandy Crusta Taste Like?
These fantastic cocktails taste light and delicate while not being overly sour or overly sweet. While the standard sour is more flavorful and benefits from sharper, more intense spirits, this one is different. In my experience, a top-shelf spirit works better. This is because you are not overwhelming the base spirit with a whole ounce of sweetener and citrus, and the more subtle finer qualities of a better base spirit can still come through. Make this with the perspective that you are not making a solid, flavorful cocktail but adding subtle flavor and complexity to an already delicious spirit.
Balancing This Delicious and Subtle Cocktail.
There isn’t any single essential ingredient in this cocktail; instead, all the elements come together in the proper balance. But if I tried to narrow it down, I would say the brandy, orange liqueur, and gum syrup are the most essential parts of this cocktail. You want to use a good base spirit for this cocktail as none of the other ingredients are made to mask the flavor of a lower-quality spirit. So whatever the quality of the base spirit will make a meaningful difference in the final product. The orange liqueur matters, too, because cheap orange liqueurs are typically not very good. I love buying on value, but I’ve never found a cheaper orange liqueur that also tasted good, and with how this drink is structured, you will notice a cheap orange liqueur—lastly, the gum syrup. You can use a standard simple syrup if you prefer and what that will change is the cocktail’s texture. Gum Syrup has gum arabic and gives the cocktail a velvety consistency similar to what egg whites provide. A smooth, meringue-y, velvet, dessert-like texture. Standard simple syrup will not add this texture and make for a thinner liquid texture cocktail, but you may prefer that. If you like your sours without egg whites, then opt for using standard simple syrup but if you like sours with egg whites, buy a bottle of gum syrup and give it a go.
3 thoughts on “Brandy Crusta – Original Recipe & History”
[…] printed in the 1862 Bartenders guide by Jerry Thomas, the Gin Crusta is a variation of the brandy crusta and is as old as it is delicious. The brandy crusta is considered one of the oldest fancy sours and […]
Thank you for your article!
However, I am a bit confused as both in his 1862 and 1876 editions of his legendary book, J. Thomas calls for quite a different recipe.
Firstly in the book it is stirred, not shaken. Moreover, it calls specifically for Bogart’s bitters. The quantities are slightly different and it is crucial for the drink to have an rim of sugar (the “Crusta” comes from the rim).
Have a pleasant day! ☺️
Wow, Thank you for catching that. Great detective work. When I first wrote this article, I had the 1887 edition in front of me and looked back to see if it was in the 1862 edition. When I saw that it was, I slapped the year 1862 in the title and didn’t notice the difference between them. Taking your criticism, I adjusted the instructions to mix it in a glass instead of shaking it.
The photo has the sugar crust, but I simply forgot to add it as an instruction. So I added that to the instructions too. For the Boker’s Bitters, I wrote that as cardamom bitters since that is what someone trying to make the drink today would need to buy if they wanted to recreate it. Correct me if I am wrong, but from all the research I was able to do, the defunct Boker’s Bitters turned out to be a kind of cardamom citrus bitter.
Thank you again. I really appreciate the meaningful advice.