They say that the best place to start is at the beginning, so I am going to make an effort to take us all the way back to where it all began, allegedly. They also say that today is National Margarita Day, a holiday clearly needed by the masses and the “frozen or rocks” lobby. The answer is rocks, by the way. They don’t tell you that, they just roll their eyes and laugh at you as they walk away if you get it wrong. I hope to answer the bigger question of how did we get here, but that may be a little too ambitious? For now, let’s just delve a little deeper and look for prime causes as we stand and make the Brandy Daisy.
Yep, we are making a brandy drink on National Margarita Day, mostly because we have already done the classic Margarita, the Mezcalita and the Holiday Margarita variations. Sure, there are hundreds of riffs on the base drink and we could have done yet another of those, but I am a noted contrarian so I am going to go my own way. As opposed to the Señor Frog’s flavor of the week, the Brandy Daisy is an old drink, making its first appearance in the appendix of the 1876 update to Jerry Thomas’ classic “How To Mix Drinks”. More correctly, the Daisy is a class of drinks, like a sour, a fizz or a buck; it is just a base recipe where the spirit is interchangeable. Thomas listed four variations using brandy, whiskery, gin and rum, but you can expand your horizons and swap anything else in there you like as many would do later.
Grab your tins and pop in 2 ounces of brandy, I chose Dunill XO; a barspoon of Jamaican rum, I chose Doctor Bird; 1/4 ounce of Cointreau, 1/4 ounce of simple syrup and 3/4 of an ounce of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Add some ice and give it a good shake to the beat of “Little Goodbyes” by SheDaisy, cause when is the last time you thought about them? When well mixed strain into a chilled coupe rimmed with sugar and top with soda water. Garnish with a dehydrated lemon wheel and call it a day.
This is lovely, as expected. Booze forward, as many of these elder cocktails are, but well balanced. I am not usually a big brandy fan, but it works here. I see why they add the rum to this one and why it was later dropped from most of the other versions. It adds a nice counterpoint here that would muddy a lighter spirit. Obviously, this one is not far from a brandy sidecar, but it really is its own thing. To be fair, most cocktails build on each other, so I guess they are like mathematics or history or fan fiction? I don’t know, make up your own analogy to show that once again, there is very little new under the sun.
This drink shows up in print for the first time in 1876 and it was incredibly popular for many years, in fact, a tequila based variation allegedly appears in the 1930 “My New Cocktail Book” by G.F. Steele. Same base drink, but with tequila as the spirit, dropping the rum. In fact, there are a couple of variations of a story claiming that the tequila daisy was created when a bartender in Tijuana accidentally grabbed tequila instead of gin while making a daisy and just went with it. I probably should have made a Tequila Daisy today. I mean, swap that lemon for a lime and leave out the soda and suddenly everyone wants to rim that glass with salt? As Paul Harvey would probably say, if he ever opined on the subject, “There are several great arguments that the Tequila Daisy evolved into today’s Margarita, but one of the most convincing, might be a simple matter of translation. You see, in Spanish the word for Daisy is Margarita…and now you know the rest of the story.” Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane my friends.