Cognac. Armagnac. Brandy de jerez. Grappa. Pisco. Schnapps. no matter where in the world you may roam, there’s a brandy waiting for you. Although classically sipped as a contemplative nightcap, this spirit (that’s produced by distilling wine or fermented fruit juice and then aged in vintage wooden barrels) is stirring up some excitement with mixologists and cocktail aficionados alike.

So what’s behind its resurgence? Its color, character and complexity, of course. “Brandy is definitely one of the spirits currently on-trend in craft cocktail bars because of its wide range and the complexity it can lend to any cocktail,” opines 33-year-old Chandra Lucariello, Director of Mixology and Spirits Education, Southern Wine & Spirits of Hawaii.

Thirty-seven-year-old Tim Rita, Lead Bar Chef Mixologist, Monkeypod Kitchen at Ko Olina Resort, concurs: “Currently, the idea is substituting brandy for another typically ‘brown’ spirit. For example, a classic Manhattan can be made by substituting brandy for the traditional rye or bourbon.”

“Brandy isn’t your grandpa’s drink anymore,” comments Dave Newman, 40, Owner and Bar Manager, Pint + Jigger. “It’s a fun and lively spirit with many faces. Depending on your mood, you can find a brandy or a brandy-infused cocktail to ~t just about any occasion. Trying new bran-dies is a great way to add a little something special to any meal and sipping a brandy cocktail can transport you to another time and place bringing back fond memories.”

Below are four labels to savor on their own. Care to stir things up? Lucariello and Rita share a few brandy-infused cocktails to try. Either way, drink on with gusto!

DELAMAIN VESPER COGNAC

Like Vesper Lynd, the female character from Ian Fleming’s 1953 James Bond novel Casino Royale, Delamain’s Vesper (Latin for “evening”) is striking and mysterious. After more than 30 years of aging in old, 350-liter oak barrels called “roux,” this cognac is blended and aged for two more years to combine Flavors and textures. While tasting, Vesper has an oaky bouquet followed by intense fragrance. On the palate, it’s mellow, with Floral and spice aromas leading to woodsy herbaceousness, raisins and vanilla bean.

LARRESSINGLE VSOP ARMAGNAC

In Larressingle, two centuries of tradition deliver the single best-selling Armagnac in the U.S. Larressingle VSOP Armagnac is produced from a cross-vintage blend of Armagnacs of no less than eight years of age, and exclusively from wines from the Bas Armagnac and Ténarèze districts. ˛is particular Armagnac bursts with supple fruit, the rich, smoky scent of prunes and a lingering, mellow finish.

FERNANDO DE CASTILLA BRANDY ARTESANAL

Over the past 200 years, the Andrada-Vanderwilde family has been landowners and wine growers in the remarkable Sherry region of Spain. In 1972, they launched the Fernando de Castilla brand and have been producing exceptional brandies every since. ˛e Artesanal line is a notable example of this rich tradition. Individually selected from casks and bottled by hand, it features a deep caramel color, and staying power and intensity in the mouth.

RE:FIND NEUTRAL BRANDY & BOTANICAL BRANDY

Crafted in the wine-growing region of Paso Robles, California, this brandy isn’t a brandy at all. Actually, their Neutral Brandy is essentially vodka. But Re:Find tweaks the recipe just enough so they can call it brandy and deliver it directly to you, the consumer. Made with the free-run juice of ripe, red wine grapes, Neutral Brandy’s distilled to just below 95 percent, and then gets adjusted down to 40-percent alcohol, or 80 proof, prior to bottling.

Re:Find also produces a Botanical Brandy (essentially, a gin) blended with juniper berry, coriander, orris root, lemon and orange peel, grains of paradise and lavender that delivers a fresh, floral flavor.

COCKTAIL RECIPES:

Brandy Crusta
Submitted by Chandra Lucariello

2 oz Pierre Ferrand Cognac
.25 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
.25 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
.5 oz lemon juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Method: Add lemon and all liquors to mixing glass with ice. Shake and strain over crushed ice into prepared glass.

Garnish: Sugar-crusted rim and wide lemon peel on inside of glass

East of Jerez
Submitted by Tim Rita

1.5 oz. Spanish brandy
.75 oz. Punt e mes
.5 oz. Domaine de Canton

Method: Build in a mixing glass.

Stir and strain.

Garnish: Candied ginger and lemon twist