Brandy polishing its image

Foundation out to find the best, healthier mixers

- Len Maseko

Time was when a stiff drink could not get better than a combinatio­n of brandy and Coke or – better still – the legendary gin and tonic.

But, as times changed, not many of these celebrated combinatio­ns have held up against the dictates of trends and fashion – except the likes of G&T, which today is still very much an indispensa­ble element of the sundown cocktail set.

A definite victim of trends has been none other than the brandy and cola mix. In addition to the stereotype profiling the concoction as essentiall­y an indulgence of the fringe element, Cognac has become the flavour of the moment among young local tipplers who seem to like the French spirit more than local brandy.

Evidently, young drinkers have taken to Cognac like duck to water in recent years, mixing it with Appletiser and Ginger Ale while the more intrepid slurp it with energy drinks.

Meanwhile, the riddle characteri­sing the fortunes of local brandy are almost biblical, much like that of “a prophet honoured everywhere except in his own home town”. Yet, the local spirit regularly steals the march from its competitor – Cognac – at internatio­nal contests, where it is much celebrated across the world every year, except in South Africa.

Sadly, the spirit is still dogged by ‘an image problem’ of either being perceived as an aggro-inducing tipple or a drink prone to reduce the imbiber to a tearful wimp from unsolicite­d grief – or worse, being an old timers’ grog.

Well, this situation is about to change, that is if the ambitious initiative spearheade­d by the Brandy Foundation is to succeed. The foundation recently rolled out an exercise of finding the magical mixer to go with brandy, replacing its outdated cola as a stock accompanim­ent.

The outcome of the nationwide drive to find the most exciting mixer for brandy, which also extended to The Wine Bar in Soweto’s Vilakazi Street, was rather illuminati­ng.

The Soweto tasters voted the mixes of brandy and tonic as well as brandy, Ginger Ale and lime as the best combinatio­n. Second favourite was the concoction of brandy, cranberry and lime. A few of the tasters also found brandy and Peartiser more appealing.

Could these mixers be a panacea to brandy’s perennial problem or would they finally help to woo young drinkers to appreciate the spirit more than Cognac, time will tell.

Brandy Foundation executive director Christelle Reade Jahn says research among consumers on popular mixers in 2016 detected a move towards “a healthier mix options, lower in sugar and utilising natural ingredient­s” such as rooibos tea and fruit or herb infusions.

 ?? / FRONTPAGE PIX ?? Patson Mathonsi and Mike Buthelezi experienci­ng a rage of mixers for brandy at The Wine Bar Vilakazi Street in Soweto. Drinks
/ FRONTPAGE PIX Patson Mathonsi and Mike Buthelezi experienci­ng a rage of mixers for brandy at The Wine Bar Vilakazi Street in Soweto. Drinks
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