While on a car ride through New Orleans during the US’ largest spirits trade show, Tales of the Cocktail last July, our driver informed us that while we were in town there was one product worth trying. It was Copper & Kings‘s American Brandy, and she had tried it at a tasting on her day off less than 24 hours prior. Because of her fervent recommendation and our lack of familiarity with the brand, we found some. The Butchertown, Louisville, Kentucky brand had just starting distributing a series of pot-still distilled, aged, authentic American brandies (and a few types of potent, flavorful absinthes). From a product category perspective, it was fascinating. American brandy is either very expensive or too cheap to drink. Copper & Kings fit snuggly between pricing-wise. As for flavor, the grape-based spirit delivers rich vanilla notes, in its American Brandy form, that would make a bourbon-drinker happy.
While we brought a few bottles back to our office, at that time, Copper & Kings wasn’t distributed in NYC. That is all about to change. This week, Copper & Kings hosted the first of a series of launch parties, entitled The MIXT&PE. At one of NYC’s best cocktail bars, Pouring Ribbons, the bar’s co-founder and cocktail master Joaquin Simo joined forces with Josh Durr of Copper & Kings and The NoMad’s Dominic Venegas. Inspired by the fact that Copper & Kings ages their brandy in warehouses where music is played, the trio constructed cocktails based upon two of their favorite albums: Jamie XX’s In Color and Caribou’s Our Love. And while the cocktails were being poured, the barrels in Kentucky were listening to the music, as well.
While speaking with Simo, he explained that when he and Venegas visited the distillery in Louisville, they were fascinated by the fact that a new distillery in the heart of whiskey country was going to “of all things, make brandies and absinthes.” He tells us, “I immediately asked, ‘Why did you pick these?’ I can think of only a few things that the general American drinking consumer understands less than brandies and absinthes. They’re challenging categories.” The Copper & Kings team responded that both spirits are interesting to make and that as a company they have their own way of doing things. Further, Copper & Kings took interest in the fact that brandy was the first ever documented distilled spirit in the US (before rye was then recorded almost eight years later).
In their warehouse, after his experience in Louisville, Simo was struck by the utilization of music 24 hours a day in the aging process—and the potential impact of sonic waves. When the brand approached him to make cocktails based on albums he admired, he felt inspired—and found Jamie XX’s innovative edge to be an appropriate fit. One of his cocktails is a variation on the classic cocktail 20th Century, though he uses Lillet Rosé, as he “wanted a little bit of that berry-ish fruit note.” Altogether, it shows off their viscous Immature Brandy.
I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)
1.5 oz Copper & Kings Immature Brandy
.75 oz Lillet Rosé
.75 oz Marie Brizzard White Creme de Cacao
.75 oz lemon juice
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a coupe glass.
Durr presented a “tropical drink to make you throw away New York in the wintertime.” It’s named for and incorporates the vibe of Caribou’s track “Julia Brightly” and is ultimately a riff on the classic Hotel Nacional cocktail. Here Durr says, “We use both cachaca as well as the craft brandy to make something robust.”
1.5 oz Copper & Kings Craft Brandy
.5 oz Novo Fogo Silver
.75 oz fresh pineapple juice
.5 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz Giffard Abricot du Roussillon
.25 oz simple syrup
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with pineapple square and maraschino cherry.
Images by Cool Hunting