Brandy is a distilled spirit that is produced from fermented fruit juice and especially the juice of grapes. It typically has a high alcoholic content and can be used in both savory and sweet recipes.
Brandy, with its rich flavors and distinctive warmth, has long been a popular drink of choice for many. These properties also make it popular as an ingredient in a variety of different recipes, for both cocktails and food.
However, there may be times when we need an alternative, whether due to personal preference, dietary restrictions, or not having any brandy on hand. If you are out of brandy but need some for a recipe, the best substitutes are vodka, rum, gin, whiskey, and fruit juice.
In this article, we will introduce five substitutes for brandy. Some of our suggestions work best in drinks and others in food, so no matter what you’re using brandy for, there should be a substitution for you.
What Does Brandy Taste Like?
Brandy is a distilled spirit that is usually made from fermented fruit juices or wine. It owes its name to the Dutch word brandewijn, which translated means “burnt wine.”
The flavor of brandy can differ, as it depends on which fruit it was originally made from and how old it is. It typically has a taste of dried fruit and citrus and is sweeter than some other similar spirits such as whiskey.
Brandy is aged in barrels, and the flavor of the barrels can also influence the taste of the brandy. It’s not unusual for brandy to have some notes of oak to it. It has a high alcoholic value. When used in cooking, the alcohol content typically burns off, but the flavor remains.
Nutritional Value Of Brandy
Let’s look at the nutritional value of brandy before we start to look at the values of the various substitutes. These are the values for one fluid ounce (28g):
- Calories: 65
- Fat: 0 g
- Carbs: 0 g
- Protein: 0 g
- Fiber: 0 g
Here are the nutritional values of the brandy substitutes and their substitution ratio.
|Fruit (orange) juice||14||0.1g||3.2g||0.2g||0.1g||1:1|
Let’s look at our brandy substitutes and how they can all be used.
Vodka may not be the most obvious substitute for brandy. Although they are both alcoholic spirits, they look different, taste different, and are made from different ingredients. However, vodka works remarkably well as a substitute for brandy in alcoholic drinks.
Make sure that the vodka you use has a neutral flavor and isn’t one of the flavored vodkas. If it’s flavored, you run the risk of changing the taste profile of your drink and overpowering the mixer or other ingredients.
We recommend using half as much vodka to begin with and then slowly adding more for taste. Vodka is especially a great choice for brandy-based cocktails such as the Sidecar.
Of all of the substitutes on the list, rum is probably the most similar to brandy. It looks similar and shares many of the same flavor profiles as brandy, despite being made from sugarcane instead of fermented fruit.
If you’re not overly familiar and experienced with alcoholic drinks, you may even have trouble telling the difference between brandy and rum, especially in cocktails.
If you can tell the difference, you will notice that rum is sweeter and more mellow. It has hints of caramel and vanilla. Rum is a great substitute for brandy in recipes.
It can be used in sweet and savory dishes in the same quantities as brandy but do keep in mind that it is a sweeter drink than brandy. You may need to reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe or add a little salt to balance it out.
Gin is a very popular and versatile spirit that has seen a renaissance in recent years thanks to the uptick in craft breweries making their own takes on this classic.
Like vodka, it’s a clear spirit, but it’s made by distilling malt or grain and infusing it with botanicals such as juniper berries. It has a unique and complex flavor profile that tastes both earthy and citrusy at the same time.
This makes it a great favorite for many people as both a neat and mixed drink. Gin can be used as a substitute for brandy in any kind of recipe that calls for brandy.
You can use it in the same quantities, but do be aware that it will change the taste of your dish slightly.
Whiskey is made from fermented and distilled grains such as corn, barley, or rye. Like brandy, it is also aged in barrels and can also gain hints of oak from its time in the barrels. Aging whiskey makes the taste more intense and smooth.
There are many different types of whiskey, and several countries have their own distinct takes on the spirit. It has a very strong flavor and although many people enjoy it straight, many prefer to reduce this taste slightly by serving it over ice or with a mixer.
The flavors of whiskey match perfectly with so many mixers, making it a popular choice for cocktails as well. Whiskey can be used in place of brandy in both drinks and food.
Keep in mind, however, that whiskey has a stronger taste, so you may want to use a smaller quantity of whiskey.
5. Fruit Juice
Brandy is made from fermented fruit juices so as a last resort, you can use fruit juice as a substitute for brandy. As brandy has hints of citrus in its flavor profile, we recommend using orange juice, but you can also use apple juice or cherry juice.
Fruit juices aren’t suitable for every recipe that calls for brandy, but if you’re making something that has a sweet and tangy taste, they will work perfectly. We recommend using fruit juice in desserts, for example.
Keep in mind that fruit juice is much sweeter than brandy, so you may need to adjust the amount of other sugars in your recipe.
Popular Recipes That Call For Brandy
Let’s look at some common ways to use brandy.
Many kinds of glazes that are used to season meats have a brandy base. Brandy can make a great sauce for red meats, especially.
Many desserts use a cherry sauce infused with brandy, such as chocolate cake or ice cream. It can also be used with some meats such as duck or pork.
Traditionally, brandy is used to season many types of fruit cake. It can be included in the original recipe and then poured over a baked cake as well. Brandy is excellent for flambéing desserts!
In this article, we introduced 5 substitutes for brandy that can be used in either drinks or food.