A brandy that’s born in the U.S.A.


September 22, 2018

Bertoux aims to appeal to the cocktail crowd

This California-made brandy is mildly fruity and works well in cocktails.

The bottle: Bertoux Brandy, $45

The back story: We may think of brandy as a European thing, as in Cognac or Armagnac, to name two of the more familiar styles. But there’s no law that says the spirit, which is produced from distilling wine, can’t be made in America. And a good number indeed are: There’s even a California-made brandy created in honor of that most forgotten of U.S. presidents, Millard Fillmore.

Now, there is another contender, Bertoux, that is distinctive in its own right. For starters, it was created in consultation with two well-known figures on the bar and restaurant scene, mixologist Jeff Bell (of PDT NYC and PDT Hong Kong) and sommelier Thomas Pastuszak (of The Nomad in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas).

But what makes Bertoux especially different is that it’s a brandy — in this case, blended from different California brandies — that is especially designed for mixing. Bell says it has “a wide swath of flavors” that can be an “inspiration for creating new cocktails.” But the brandy can be used in many a classic cocktail, too, the Bertoux team says.

Speaking of which, the brandy takes its name from one Jean Bertoux, who found a way to adapt a bicycle so that it could accommodate a passenger with a “sidecar.” The Sidecar also became the name of a brandy-based cocktail — hence, the boozy connection.

What we think about it: Simply put, this is a delicious brandy, with a mildly fruity and floral character (the Bertoux team says you’ll pick up notes of apricots and orange blossoms) and no rough edges to stop a sipper from enjoying it. Perhaps that is why it is so mixable, but it also why it can easily stand on its own.

How to enjoy it: You can indeed go both ways with Bertoux. Put it in a cocktail — it works in everything from an Old Fasioned to, yes, a Sidecar. But try it as standalone sip, with or without ice.

Finally, as of now, the bottle is available in just two states, California and New York, plus online. The Bertoux team expects it will be more widely available over time.