Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cocktail Recipe Du Jour: The B&B (and B)

If you've ever watched the Mel Brooks classic "High Anxiety" (like I have) and were captured by the 70's portrayal of the piano bar and cocktail scene (like I was), you'll appreciate this.  

In the 1977 film that pays homage to Hitchcock classics, psychiatrist Dr. Thorndyke (Brooks) suffers from "high anxiety" (a.k.a. vertigo).  One of his patients is a mystery that he is trying to unravel.  The patient's daughter Victoria is trying to assist him in his findings, so of course they meet at a piano bar to discuss matters.  Cut to the piano bar where we find Thorndyke and Victoria sitting by the piano, and a waiter is bringing them drinks.  "Here you have a B&B," he says, handing the drink to Thorndyke, "and you had the B and B and B," he finishes, handing Victoria her drink.

So what is a B&B, you ask?  Glad you asked.

A classic B&B stands for Brandy and Benedictine. Let's break it down. 

What is Brandy?  Brandy is a strong alcoholic spirit distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice. Some B&B's specify cognac (a specific brandy), but then that would be called a "C&B," and that's just not as catchy.

What is Benedictine? A brandy-based liqueur with a secret herb formula produced by Benedictine monks in France and in Spain. Apparently this extremely intricate recipe is only known by three people at any given time. The three primary spices include Angelica, Hyssop and Lemon Balm, also known as Melissa. The ingredients are infused with vanilla and lemon peels, aged for three months and then blended together with the base spirit. The newly created batch is then aged in for 12 months, filtered and then aged an additional three months. At the end of the two-year process, the liqueur is ready to be enjoyed. 

A B&B is often served on the rocks. Some drinkers prefer it straight up and others prefer it slightly warmer (prep your snifter with warm water, dumping it before adding the spirits). It is almost always served in a brandy snifter and it makes an ideal after-dinner drink or nightcap. 

Enjoy as you wish, but I suggest you don a fur stole, sit by a piano bar, and listen to your date croon "HIIIIIIIIGH ANG-ZIIIII-ETEEEEE!" Cheers!

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