Brandy Crusta: The New Orleans Cocktail That Gives The Sidecar A Run For Its Money

New Orleans has a prominent place in mixology, with many iconic slings first shaken or stirred in the Southern city. The Sazerac — the first cocktail ever created in the U.S. — emerged there, as did the arduous-to-assemble Ramos Gin Fizz, and the Hurricane drink's origin story lies there, too.

Another pioneering — yet now often forgotten — New Orleans classic is the Brandy Crusta. Invented in the 1850s by Italian bartender Joseph Santini, the drink was among the earliest of the city's prominent slings. It employs a brandy spirit base — obvious from its name — combined with orange liqueur, lemon juice, and simple syrup. A few decades later, bartenders started adding maraschino liqueur, which became integrated into the recipe.

The cocktail is beautifully presented in a sugar-rimmed flute glass, with a large lemon peel rolled around the interior. Its color is a pleasing orange-pink, and the flavor is a balance of sweet and tangy. Perhaps it's surprising it went out of style, although some suggest it went on to inspire the similar Sidecar. So shake up the Brandy Crusta to see how it compares — you might just prefer it.

The Brusty Crusta mixes up a sweeter, less citrusy contrast to the Sidecar

The classic Sidecar employs a similar assortment of components, although often a tad more specific. The sling reaches for specifically aged and white grape-based cognac as opposed to brandy; which is the more open-ended liquor used for the Crusta. A Sidecar also employs triple sec — a drier liqueur that brings a gentle orange note to the tangy drink. The brandy crusta can utilize bolder, more floral Curaçao or go for the same triple sec liqueur — it's a more open-ended drink.

Lemon juice is another ingredient shared by both drinks, but the Brandy Crusta goes less juicy-heavy, instead favoring quite a bit more lemon peel. Plus, this sling mixes in simple syrup, and there's the sugar crust topping, too. As a result, the Brandy Crusta is a different drinking experience. It matches brandy's fruit and barrel notes with sugar and then throws in bitters and maraschino liqueur, upping the drink's sweet and boozy allure.

Served in a tall glass, the Brandy Crusta looks elegant and tastes punchy. Conversely, the Sidecar reads more like a sour — with a shorter list of ingredients — all balanced with delicate finesse. So, if you're looking for something that reads more New Orleans night out, the Brandy Crusta is the drink for you. Order one whenever you want a fun, celebratory evening with an eye-catching photo-op, as opposed to the sidecar's more traditional and dependable mix.