The Brandy Fix

Jun 23, 2017

Of the many cordial liqueurs the Mr. Boston brand advertises in their 1935 cocktail book, Curaçao is not among them. This could explain why Jerry Thomas’ 1887 Brandy Fix was transformed from orange to cherry.

What the ‘fix’ is supposed to repair seems to be a mystery that leaves the door open for interpretation. Could this have been the fix for all your worries? A medical miracle potion? Or was this just a quick fix for sobriety?

We all know that many spirits began with a medicinal purpose in mind. Brandy was given to patients in the 19th and early 20th century as a means of cardiac stimulation. The liquor seemed to increase the cardiac output and raise ones blood pressure. The only problem was, Brandy is also a depressant that could alternatively be used to sedate a patient. The two contradicting benefits of the drink seem to cancel one another out. If that wasn’t enough, for some reason they used alcohol as food for invalid patients – and we thought out medical system was messed up!

Of the other ingredients found in the older Fix recipe, would certainly help increase your vitamin C intake for the day. It is said that Angostura Bitters were developed to help sea sickness and scurvy and I suppose orange Curaçao may hold some of the same properties.

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“The sea has charms, but creates qualms” – LOL

So far, I’ve deduced that this drink may be able to get you through a long boat ride over a choppy ocean by helping your nausea as you sleep through the experience 🙂 Having gotten sick on the water before, I can see the appeal in this! At least it would be tastier than Dramamine.

Back on land, Leo Cotton took out the orange in favor of Mr. Boston’s Cherry Nectar which book advertises as “higher in proof” and containing “less sugar than other cordials.” He also doubled the lemon juice but surprisingly chose to stick with regular Brandy as opposed to his beloved Apricot.

Mr. Boston’s recipe is rather strong calling for 3 ounces of high proof liqueur. Jerry notes 1 wine-glass for which I have yet to figure out the proper amount. Maybe it was 3 ounces???

To prepare the Brandy Fix one must first dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar in 1 teaspoon of water. Though neither cocktail states as much, I decided to mix the ingredients dry (sans ice) before adding them to the highball filled with “fine ice” to avoid diluting it too much. I wanted to make sure all the goodies were mixed well before chilling so as not to mistakenly create a layered drink.

A mere 3.5 ounces of liquid presented in an 8 ounce glass seemed strange but I did what the author instructed. After filling the glass with ice, the liquid was actually the perfect amount.

Since Cherry Nectar is no longer available, I used Cherry Kirshwasser instead. The liqueur from Germany is 45% ABV (90 proof). The St. Remy VSOP is 80 proof. After mixing equal parts of each spirit, roughly 1/2 ounce of lemon juice and a splash of simple syrup; the Brandy Fix clocks in at around 56 proof. As the ice melts that will go down considerably but to start, it’s a rather stiff drink.

The excessive heat warning that was set to expire on Wednesday, rages on here in Vegas through the weekend. Thankfully, today’s refreshment was pool appropriate! It all comes back to the open water with this one.

Ryan and I agreed that this was a very tart drink. Perhaps the 1/4 of an lemon noted in Jerry Thomas’ recipe would have had less pucker power.

It was a very strong drink to start but as the ice melted away this cocktail became more pleasant. The large amount of ice paired with the citrus was refreshing under the hot 115 degree sun.

Unfortunately, after bouncing around on the churning water for an hour, I started to feel a bit queasy. I think it was too much tart for my tummy to process. Maybe the Brandy Fix wouldn’t be such a great remedy for seasickness after-all!

The long and short… this was a nice drink but I think less lemon and maybe the addition of Curaçao would have helped. I’ll have to give it another go sometime using the 19th century recipe instead. I have a feeling I’d like the results more.