Brandy is alcohol perfect for sipping on its own or mixing into cocktails. It can be pretty expensive to purchase regularly.
Fortunately, you don’t need to spend money on brandy. There are plenty of substitutes for brandy that will give you the same taste and effect at an affordable price.
These substitutes for brandy will ensure that you’re able to enjoy your favorite drink without going broke!
Table of Contents
- What Is Brandy?
- Best Substitutes for Brandy
What Is Brandy?
It’s a type of alcoholic beverage made from distilled wine and stored in oak barrels. It is typically flavored with herbs, spices, or fruits during distillation.
For example, brandy flavored with vanilla can be called vanilla brandy, while grape brandy is known as grappa.
Meanwhile, the term brandy refers to several different types of alcoholic beverages. Including Cognac and Armagnac. Notably, there are so many substitutes for brandy.
However, most people use it to refer to eau de vie (literal water of life), which has been aged in wood and has an alcohol content between 35% and 60%.
In general, brandy is clear but may have some color added back through caramelization. It can be served neat (straight up) or on ice and mixed into cocktails like Sidecars and Manhattans.
The following are the best substitutes for brandy:
Best Substitutes for Brandy
The acidity in red wine is one of the suitable substitutes for brandy in some recipes. Madeira, however, is more robust and sweeter, but it’s still a popular choice.
So what if you want something with even more kick? Tawny port or Cognac are two other spirits that add richness to recipes without being too strong.
Similarly, other wines you could try include Chianti, Beaujolais, or Sherry—although they’re usually sweeter than brandy and may require additional sugar or honey to mask their natural sweetness.
In addition to packing a healthy wallop of caffeine, coffee is also brimming with antioxidants that can protect your heart.
The great thing about coffee as one of the substitutes for brandy is that its base alcohol ingredient, ethyl alcohol, evaporates when heated.
However, be careful not to overheat your coffee. Boiling or cooking it too long will make it taste not very pleasant and will also cook off any good-for-you antioxidants. Drink it black or add some milk and sugar to cut down on calories without sacrificing flavor.
Meanwhile, If you’re looking for a way to add more flavor to your coffee, try adding vanilla extract or cinnamon.
They are tasty substitutes for brandy that have fewer calories than many sugars. (Note: Not sure if you should be drinking coffee?
There are a variety of gins that are fantastic substitutes for brandy in drinks. While gin can be high in alcohol, it’s not as strong as brandy. This makes it much easier to drink straight up or in cocktails.
For example, Gordon’s London Dry Gin is priced at about $14/750 ml per bottle, whereas a bottle of Courvoisier costs around $36/750 ml.
Even particular types of gin made explicitly as substitutes for brandy called Old Tom gins. Pisco: Another way to get more out of your favorite cocktail recipes is to sub out brandy with Pisco instead!
While not technically liquor, some fruit juices can be used as alternatives for brandy in your cocktails. Apple juice works well in apple brandy cocktails.
Pineapple juice blends well with dark rum. And also, cranberry juice is one of the tasty substitutes for brandy Manhattan.
Similarly, you can also try using grape and peach juices; be sure to adjust your recipe accordingly. A common substitute is a half-and-half or whole milk mixed with a dash of vanilla extract.
Meanwhile, if you’re making a boozy milkshake or smoothie, it’s still best to avoid adding ice cream until you’ve diluted the drink.
The most commonly substituted type of liquor in brandy is bourbon. If you’re not a whiskey drinker, swapping your brandy with bourbon will probably taste fine as long as you don’t mind a bit of extra sweetness.
Meanwhile, in terms of alcohol content, they’re close enough to get you pretty drunk if that’s what you’re after. I’d recommend Knob Creek as far as brands go—it’s inexpensive and readily available just about anywhere booze is sold.
Above all, remember that when adding it to a recipe, swap it one-to-one with brandy in terms of measurements. If it calls for 1/4 cup brandy, use 1/4 cup bourbon instead. Likewise, 1/2 cup brandy means 1/2 cup bourbon.
If you’re looking to get that warm, burning feeling, tequila is your best bet. It’s essentially brandy cut with water and can be used in recipes.
Just watch out: While tequila has half as many calories as brandy and other hard liquors, it still packs a wallop in that department. One 100-proof Jose Cuervo Gold shot will set you back 190 calories and 41 grams of carbohydrates.
For that reason, it’s generally considered an entertainment drink—something you use on occasion rather than every day.
If you choose to imbibe regularly, save up some extra calories. Do this by cutting other snacks or small meals from your diet throughout the week.
Peppermint is again one of the suitable substitutes for brandy. While it doesn’t taste like brandy, Peppermint Schnapps is a good option if you want to mix something up.
The peppermint flavor blends nicely with dark sodas, such as root beer and Dr. Pepper. Or it can be used in place of bitters in an Old Fashioned cocktail.
Also, it goes well with chocolate desserts! Whether you’re making Hot Chocolate Pudding Cake or Chocolate Peanut Butter. Banana Ice Cream Smoothie and Peppermint Schnapps make each recipe just a little better (and more festive).
Finally, of course, no holiday would be complete without mulled wine. But instead of using brandy to spice it up, try swapping out some or all of it for your favorite schnapps.
If you’re looking to make a dessert with a brandy or whiskey base, try adding an extract like vanilla or almond. Both are simple substitutes for brandy.
They will add a distinctive flavor to your dish without running out and buying something new. And again, don’t you want to run out and buy anything?
No problem! Just take what you have at home and try one of these combinations. Vanilla extract with dark chocolate, brown sugar, or honey; almond extract with vanilla ice cream.
Also, coconut milk or white chocolate; Irish cream with caramel sauce; orange-flavored liqueur with orange juice, or slices of fresh fruit.
While it might not be as aromatic or flavorful as brandy, vodka is another liquor that can be used in various cocktails. It’s relatively neutral in taste and easy to drink.
Vodkas are suitable substitutes for brandy. You can choose a flavored brand like vanilla or citrus vodka. Or use unflavored (and high-quality) vodka.
Meanwhile, If you prefer something that feels less alcoholic than other spirits, opt for mid-grade vodka. The main drawback to using vodka instead of brandy is its lack of flavor.
But, as long as you’re going with flavored varieties (see below), you shouldn’t notice much difference.
The substitutes for brandy begin with whiskey, which is simply a type of brandy typically aged in oak casks. This dark amber spirit bears little resemblance to clear or white brandies, but it has a lot of the same flavor notes.
So, whether you choose a scotch or bourbon-style whiskey will depend on what you’re looking for. Scotch whiskeys are made from malted barley and typically display malty flavors and smoke.
Bourbon-style whiskies use corn as their base grain, offer more delicate sweetness, and often say baking spice flavors.
The first, and perhaps one of the best substitutes for brandy. If you want to replace brandy with a similarly-flavored spirit, rum is one best.
Many people will indeed choose to drink either one or the other (or both) depending on what they plan to make.
There is no denying that rums make excellent substitutes for brandy replacement options for overall flavor and taste. Unlike some of its flavored counterparts, it does not have a robust molasses flavor behind it. This is sometimes overwhelming.
Therefore, this makes rum an excellent choice for smooth cocktails where brandy would typically be used. For example, you could use spicy rum as one of the substitutes for brandy without losing much of anything at all.
The next on our list of substitutes for brandy is Sherry. If you are going to be doing shots, then dry Sherry will do.
Then a sweet sherry-like amontillado can go well if it is going to be on the rocks. If it is going to be on the rocks, it is just a glass of brandy, then a medium-dry would probably be better.
Therefore, these sherries are reasonably priced and found in most grocery stores. Their flavors range from subtle to bold, but they all fit nicely into drinks like brandy Alexander and flips (shakes with liquor on top).
Finally, without adding anything else, these substitutes for brandy are going to be cut. And they worked well alone and mixed in with other cocktails.