Edward Spencer’s Brandy Daisy


While predating the Sidecar by quite a bit, the Brandy Daisy comes in a variety of forms.  As such, it is an excellent cocktail to discuss and look at in order to understand the evolution of a drink.    Exploring one of more common and recent variations, I find that it is similar enough to a Sidecar to warrant comparison, and is in itself a refreshing delightful cocktail, both sweet with hints of sour, and the complex flavors of various herbs on the finish of a sip. In some ways, it can be conceived of as a forerunner to the Sidecar, perhaps lending inspiration to the cocktail, though personally I think of it as a complementary cocktail.

One of the original publications for the Brandy Daisy was in 1876, in Jerry Thomas’ The Bartenders Guide or How To Mix Drinks. The Daisy, with one of the earliest popular references being in Henry Llewellyn Williams’ 1866 novel, Gay Life in New York, or Fast Men and Grass Widows (Wondrich Imbibe! 107)Essentially, the Daisy died out but reappeared in the 1930s as an extremely popular cocktail, one which was known as being to bartenders of the time as “cooling, refreshing, and peculiarly tasty” (Ibid 107).  According to Wondrich, the cocktail, while made with brandy, whiskey, gin or rum, was sweetened originally with orange cordial, strained and then fizzed, making it nearly identical to a Fizz except for the addition of orange cordial (Ibid 108).

However, the Daisy took on different connotations than a fizz, and somewhat became a “dude’s drink,” with a “little bit of fanciness that came empinkened with grenadine and decanted into some sort of recherché” (Ibid).  Furthermore, around 1929, near Tijuana, a Tequila Daisy was introduced: “Tequila. Lime juice.  Grenadine.  A little creme de cassis.  Ice.  Soda.  In other words, a tequila Daisy, modern type” (Ibid).  As Wondrich points out when discussing the cocktail for esquire: “The oldest recipe we’ve got for a Brandy Daisy is from “Professor” Jerry Thomas. His rendition dates to 1862 and is far more alluring, calling as it does for curaçao (instead of the usually insipid grenadine) and accenting the whole with a couple dashes of fragrant Jamaican rum (brandy’s closest friend in the spirit world). Those with a mixological bent will notice that, by the simple omission of rum and fizz, you’ve got what is essentially a Sidecar on ice” (Wondrich Esquire).

In Wondrich’s work Imbibe!, we see the Old School and New School Daisies.  Wondrich writes that the original Daisy was one that utilized 1 teaspoon of gum syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons of orange cordial, the juice of half a lemon, and 2 ounces of spirits (Wondrich Imbibe! 109).  Served originally in a glass half full of shaved ice, the drink would be strained into a glass and filled with Seltzer water from a siphon (Ibid).  In the Old School cocktails, a few people would utilize yellow Chartreuse, namely Harry Johnson as well as Edward Spencer, who wrote that of the benefits of yellow Chartreuse in the cocktail in his work, The Flowing Bowl (1899) (Ibid; Esquire).  Wondrich argues that the flavor of the Chartreuse goes readily with the rich full body of the brandy, which honestly is quite true.
The new daisy of the 1910s, was one that utilized a silver mug, and decorated with plenty of fresh fruit, mint and drunk with straws (Imbibe! 110).  This version utilized the juice of half a lime and a fourth of a lemon, a teaspoon of powdered (also known as superfine) sugar, a teaspoon of grenadine, two ounces of liquor and half an ounce of carbonated water (Ibid).    Notice the difference not only in ingredients, but also presentation: the cocktails of the old school were not garnished, and served in “small bar glasses” while the new one were linked with lots of variegated ingredients in order to be decorated in an appropriate manner.  As such, the cocktail seems more similar to a punch, than to one of the older cocktails, though it would still pack quite a bit of a punch.
I utilized Wondrich’s recipe that comes from Edward Spencer: as Wondrich points out, while Spencer called for the addition of sugar, it is superfluous.  The Chartreuse, especially of the yellow variety, is already far sweet enough, and can stand on its own.  Taste wise, the cocktail is given effervescence and life from the soda water, while also tasting earthy from the Chartreuse’ use of saffron and other spices, and has a bit of a sour bite to it.  The cocktail is full-bodied even when diluted with some soda water, mainly on account of the cognac that I utilized. The cocktail seems to lean more towards a digestif, mainly because of the Chartreuse and the brandy, but it could be used as a very strong aperitif, thanks to the fizz and sour components of the cocktail.
A Brandy Daisy:

1 1/2 ounces Brandy or Cognac
3/4 ounce Yellow Chartreuse
3/4 ounce lemon juice
Soda water

Stir ingredients in a glass until chilled, strain into a collins glass filled with ice.  Top with soda water.

CocktailDB: The Internet Cocktail Database. “Brandy Daisy.” CocktailDB.com. http://www.cocktaildb.com/recipe_detail?id=2781 (accessed February 20, 2010).
Wikipedia contributors. “Brandy Daisy.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandy_Daisy (accessed February 20, 2010). 
–. “Sidecar.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidecar_%28cocktail%29 (accessed February 20, 2010).

Wondrich, David. 2007. Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar. New York: Penguin Group.
–.  Esquire Magazine.  “Brandy Daisy.”   Esquire.com.  http://www.esquire.com/drinks/brandy-daisy-drink-recipe (accessed February 20, 2010)