With the introduction of BERTOUX brandy, one wonders why all cocktail-driven spirits aren’t created—at least to some extent—by people with experience behind the bar. And that experience is precisely what led bartender Jeff Bell and sommelier Thomas Pastuszak to launch an American-made brandy specifically with cocktails in mind.
Bell, who is General Manager of PDT NYC and a partner of PDT Hong Kong, was particularly inspired by brandy’s place in American history. “Brandy in a sense is the true spirit of this country and one of the first products ever made in the United States,” he says. With that in mind, BERTOUX is a blend of pot‑distilled California brandies, aged from three to seven years in French and American oak.
Pastuszak, who serves as Executive Wine Director of The Nomad (NYC/LA/Las Vegas), was also inspired by brandy’s long history in the cocktail world. “Some of the earliest vintage cocktail books that I’ve found use brandy as a base ingredient, so I think we have an opportunity to really place brandy back as the mainstay for a lot of great cocktails,” he says.
Pastuszak brings a wine knowledge that is especially helpful in ensuring that BERTOUX shows the truest expression of the grapes, while Bell’s bartending experience informs how the spirit mixes with other cocktail ingredients to yield a perfectly balanced drink that allows the brandy to shine without overshadowing any other element. “Brandy has a great opportunity to be at the forefront of cocktail culture because of how versatile the spirit is,” says Bell. “…We wanted to create something that had year-round mixibility to it and help create that identifying flavor profile of what California brandy is.”
Check out the video above to learn more about the inspiration behind BERTOUX and how Pastuszak and Bell hope it transforms brandy’s standing in the cocktail world and set the standard for California brandy, and try mixing it in the Pennington Daiquiri from Lost Hours in New York City.