Clear Armagnac Makes A Killer Sidecar

A clear drinking option other than vodka


Clear Cut

A clear drinking option other than vodka

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The hot-weather drinking conundrum: A dram of Scotch sounds about as lovely as wearing fleece in a sauna, but vodka lacks the desired punch.

Filling the gap between white and brown spirits is a newly minted category of clear Armagnac–right in time for the French brandy revival.

It is similar to other grape distillates like Pisco in that it is unaged, but the overlap ends there: These beauties are made with the same French grapes that have gone into the classic spirit for centuries.

Until recently, the definition of Cognac and Armagnac included a clause about aging. Giant Cognac houses such as Rémy Martin and Hennessy have released unaged spirits in the past but under different names; the former's Rémy V, which was released in the States last summer, went under the descriptor of "clear brandy."

But now the distillers of Armagnac have legitimized the spirit, changing the rules that designate the brandy to include Armagnacs that never see age, called Armagnac Blanche.

And bartenders are embracing the bottles that have made it Stateside, playing off the round, juicy and brassy flavors in cocktails that might otherwise feel heavy. One such example: the White Chevy Suburban cocktail (click here for the recipe) at Ray's & Stark Bar in Los Angeles, an uplifting take on a Sidecar.

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