The History Of the Crusta Style Cocktail.
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.
How Do Crustas 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.