Breaking down the Brandy Crusta, a drink we love

In a world where cocktails all look the same, embrace the Crusta.

Breaking down the Brandy Crusta, a drink we love

The Spirits Platform team are offering training across the country on classic cocktails, spirits and more — contact your state's ambassador (details below) to learn more.

If you drink enough cocktails in enough bars in enough cities, you’ll start to notice something: cocktails tend to look the same these days.

Minimalist glassware, big clear block of ice, clear drinks — there’s usually a clarified Milk Punch on the list there somewhere. There's perhaps a disc of citrus peel to garnish. Everything is very clean, refined, and a bit same-same.

I remember when I first began seeing this modernist style of drink, I thought it was wonderful, and I loved the glassware: it was luxurious, modern, a reaction to sticking everything in vessels designed in the 1800s and served by bartendery types in arm garters.

Fast-forward to today, from Brisbane to Barcelona, it’s as though the combination of these elements denote that This Is A Cocktail Bar.

In the video above, Josh Varna breaks down the Brandy Crusta: the ingredients, what each one is doing in there, the glassware, technique, and more.

But perhaps it was always thus? Martinis, Manhattans, and all their variations end up in the same glass; few are the drinks that get a glass of their own — and precious few belong in a Hurricane glass. And perhaps this is the point: the glassware you serve your drinks in, and the way they’re garnished, tells people a lot about the kind of place they’re in, and what they should expect from the drinks. I don’t know if this is necessarily a good thing either — taste is so subjective that if we don’t have an open mind to the quality of the drink before us, then we’re likely to have judged it well before we drink it. Then again: show me a bartender who at some point hasn’t scoffed at some out of date or kitschy glassware and I’ll show you a liar. Everyone does it.

But should you need a corrective for the modernist presentation, you can always call on the Crusta.  It’s an old-timey drink, yes. It’s a bit of a pain to make — paring the lemon peel back, rimming the glass with sugar, making sure you’ve got enough peel to fit the glass just right — but at least its garnish and presentation has a purpose. It is a citrusy drink with a little sweetness from the rim, disguising the fact that it really packs a punch.

The Crusta is a drink that dates back before the time of cocktail books to the 1850s and a New Orleans bartender called Joseph Santini. And it must have turned heads at the time thanks to its decorative appearance (it doesn’t hurt that it’s a damn fine drink, too). In fact, it’s one of the few drinks known less for it composition as much as for its appearance — the rim of sugar giving it the name Crusta, and the long peel of citrus making the drink stand apart from others.

And if it’s true, as Spirits Platform brand ambassador Josh Varna tells us in this video breaking down the Crusta, that we drink with our eyes, then the Crusta has us off to a good start.

Brandy Crusta


  • 50ml St Remy Signature Brandy
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 7.5ml maraschino liqueur
  • 7.5ml sugar syrup


  1. Moisten the rim of a footed glass with citrus.
  2. Rim with fine sugar.
  3. Shake all ingredients with ice.
  4. Fine-strain into the glass.
  5. Garnish with a long citrus peel around the inside of the rim of glass.

Want to learn more?

This recipe and video was made possible by Spirits Platform’s Spirits Academy. Their team of ambassadors conduct trainings around the country, sharing their in-depth knowledge of spirits, cocktails, and their big portfolio of products.

Get in touch with your Spirits Platform ambassador for your state to find out more.

National Ambassador Manager: Mark Hickey — email him on
National Ambassador (Tia Maria, Disaronno, Busker): Danilo Migliorini — email him on
NSW, ACT: Josh Varna — email him on
QLD, NT: Jack Creighton — email him on
VIC, TAS: Max Borrowman — email him on