April 20, 2020

Bittered Brandy Cocktails (and Chocolate!) For Your 2020

Every South African should have a bottle of brandy in the cupboard – whether it’s leftovers from Festive Season trifle making or a weekend drink of choice. And who doesn’t have a slab of chocolate or two stashed away for lockdown, right?

What should also feature in everyone’s pantry is a bottle of Angostura aromatic bitters – the can’t-miss bottle featuring an over-sized label and distinct yellow cap that is the essential ingredient for that extra depth of flavour both behind the bar and in the kitchen. From cocktails to savoury dishes and desserts, just a few dashes will highlight existing flavours and introduce new ones.

Well, you can treat yourself to a tasty bittered brandy cocktail paired with deliciously bittered chocolate desserts using what’s in your food store.

When it comes to brandy, its sweet notes and nutty flavours are ideal for bringing out the best in good quality chocolate and the spirits strength and lack of acidity means it pairs well with rich chocolatey desserts like Belgian chocolate, ice cream and chocolate sauce, chocolate mousse, chocolate brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

Christelle Reade-Jahn, Director of the SA Brandy Foundation had some interesting insights to share, “South African brandy is made from the highest quality base wine, usually Colombard or Chenin Blanc. Most aromas in our brandies are the result of maturation in oak barrels; so, the consumer may pick up fruity notes of peach and apricot, the sweet tastes of chocolate and caramel, nutty flavours or spices like clove and nutmeg”.

Brandy and chocolate go well together because of the natural fruity aromas within the base wine used to distil brandy. The different fruity or spicy aromas pair incredibly well with various chocolate. As a general rule, a younger lighter brandy pairs well with white chocolate, medium-aged ten to twelve-year-old brandies pair well with citrus or fruit-infused milk chocolate, and older brandies of fifteen to twenty years old pairs well with dark chocolate.

Vanessa Nel, Marketing Manager for Angostura aromatic bitters in South Africa says, “Adding a drop or two of bitters to brandy-based cocktails emphasises the underlying notes of the brandy and when it comes to chocolate, adds another layer of richness to the dessert. These are our top three brandy cocktails to pair with ‘something-chocolate’”.

Brandy-Centric Cocktails

Brandy Crusta


  • 50ml brandy
  • 7.5ml orange liqueur
  • 7.5ml cherry liqueur
  • 15ml fresh lemon juice
  • 1 dash Angostura aromatic bitters
  • Sugar
  • Twist of lemon peel
  • Ice


Coat the rim of the cocktail glass with lemon juice and sugar. Curl a long thick lemon peel, twist and place it all around the inside of the rim of the glass. Fill your mixing glass with ice. Add brandy, liqueurs, lemon juice and a dash of bitters to the mixing glass. Stir the ingredients together until well combined, strain the drink into a glass and serve.

Brandy Sidecar


  • 50ml brandy
  • 25ml orange liqueur
  • 25ml lemon juice
  • ±4 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
  • Twist of orange peel
  • Ice


Tip all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake well until the outside of the shaker feels cold, then strain the cocktail into a chilled glass. Add bitters to taste and garnish with a twist of orange peel.

Brandy Sour


  • 60ml brandy
  • 30ml lemon juice
  • 15ml sugar syrup
  • 3 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • Ice


Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into an ice-filled serving glass and garnish with a lemon wedge.



  • 45ml brandy
  • 25ml sweet vermouth
  • A dash of simple syrup
  • 2 – 3 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
  • Ice
  • Fresh cherries


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and combine all the ingredients. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Drape a pair of fresh cherries over the side of the glass.