How to Make a Brandy Sour

Let me show you how to make a brandy sour, a refreshing long drink that originated on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

howtomakeabrandysour Brandy Sour cocktail

This mixed drink cocktail recipe is a heady reminder of long hot days in the Mediterranean sun with its unique combination of Cyprus brandy, lemon and bitters. I love drinking it on a warm summer night, though be warned, it does not taste like alcohol and quickly goes to your head!

Similar recipes can be found in other countries, but an authentic Brandy Sour should be made with Cypriot liquor and the distinctive yellow-green bitter lemons found all over the island.

Origins of the Brandy Sour

A "soft" drink fit for a king is essentially how the Brandy Sour came to be introduced. Back in the 1930's, King Farouk of Egypt, who reigned from 1936 - 1952, spent much of his time in the Troodos mountain area of Cyprus staying at the Forest Park Hotel in the mountain resort of Platres.

Despite being a Muslim, the young king had a strong liking for Western cocktails so the hotel management devised the cocktail as a substitute for iced tea. Once the drink became known in other hotels in the resort, it quickly spread to other towns on the island. Today the Brandy Sour is internationally recognized as "the" Cyprus cocktail.

Ingredients for a Brandy Sour

  • 2 measures Cypriot brandy (usually KEO VSOP or Haggipavlu Anglias brands)

  • 1 measure Cypriot lemon squash

  • 2-4 drops of bitters (Angostura is the most commonly used)

  • Top up with soda or lemonade

  • Ice

Tip: The original Cypriot brandy used was a brand called Haggipavlu Anglias. I have used it and also the cheaper Keo VSOP, but my favourite brandy to use in the cocktail is actually a Greek brand called Alexandrion, as recommended by the local off-licence - it tastes far smoother!

How to Make a Brandy Sour Cocktail

  1. Put ice in a tall glass and add a few drops of Angostura bitters.

  2. Add brandy and the lemon squash.

  3. Stir to mix then top up with soda water for a stronger taste or lemonade for a slightly sweeter cocktail.

Tip: You can buy a cheap version of Angostura bitters here in Cyprus called Cyprus bitters. My advice is DON'T USE IT! It tastes VERY sweet, is bright red in colour and will totally spoil your cocktail. Some tavernas use it in their brandy sours and believe me, it's undrinkable, so always ask before you order one!

About Cypriot Brandy and Cypriot Lemon Squash

Brandy, in particular the Haggipavlu Anglias or Alexandrion recommended for this cocktail, is one of Cyprus's main exports and has a distinctive caramel aftertaste. As the flavor is less strong and the price very cheap compared to cognac and Armagnac, it is perfect for cocktail making.

The lemon squash used in an authentic Brandy Sour is made from the bitter lemons found locally which are mixed with a small amount of sugar to produce a strong lemon cordial. In practice, most of us use undiluted, shop-bought lemon squash instead.

A well-made Brandy Sour should have a distinctive, fresh, slightly sweet yet sour taste without an overpowering taste of brandy. The color should be amber/pale orange. If it is too dark, the bartender has been too heavy with the brandy or the Angostura bitters.

Tips on How to make a Brandy Sour at Home

  • Experiment with adding a few more or less drops of Angostura bitters according to personal taste.

  • Make an economical punch for a summer party or BBQ using cheap, preferably Cypriot, brandy.

  • Serve a mixture of iced tea with Brandy Sours as a non-alcoholic alternative at a cocktail party. Just be sure to label each one appropriately.

Brandy Sour Cocktail, Memories of Cyprus

There's nothing quite like a Brandy Sour on a hot summer's night in Cyprus. Take a little of the island home by using this easy cocktail recipe on how to make a brandy sour, not forgetting a bottle of cheap Cyprus brandy at the airport on the way home.

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