When you think of brandy, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Do you think of something that only a man, and maybe a slightly older one, would drink? That’s what I thought until I sipped a Rhine Hall cocktail. Brandy tends to have a perception of being a gentleman’s drink, not a liquor to mix and match in different fruity feminine cocktails. By breaking down & distilling their products from 100% fruit, Rhine Hall creates a brandy that is the purest form of the fruit and is a great substitute for that vodka you were adding to your drink. It’s clear and has zero starches, added sugar, or preservatives. Translation: it’s the perfect liquor for a refreshing cocktail.
Rhine Hall is a distillery located in the Industrial District of downtown Chicago. Founded in 2013 by father/daughter team Charlie and Jenny Solberg, it quickly grew from a family hobby to a successful business. The name Rhine Hall comes from the hockey rink where Charlie played professional hockey in Austria in the 1970s and where he learned the initial art of the distilling process. I might add that Charlie is my mother’s brother and Jenny and I are cousins, so witnessing the evolution of Rhine Hall (as well as sampling many homemade schnapps over the years), has been such a treat. Today you can find the distillery just a few blocks from the United Center.
Rhine Hall offers a plethora of different brandies including Apple, Oaked Apple, Grappa, Oaked Grappa, Mango, Plum, Peach, Pear, Cherry, and Rhine Hall La Normande. All of the fruit with a few exceptions (ie mango/peach) comes from the Great Lakes Region of Michigan.
If you’re a lucky Chicago resident, you can visit the Distillery yourself or purchase locally from Binnys. If you live out of state like I do, feel free to purchase their brandy online. Their unique bottle & design will make a perfect addition to your bar cart and will have your visitors asking you about it.
So what do you mix Rhine Hall brandy with once you’ve purchased it? Well here are a few cocktail recipes below. First thing’s first. You’ll need a shaker, jigger, and strainer and you can buy these items here. They’re kind of necessary if you want to host parties & make cocktails for your guests!
Cherry Lime Fizz
2 oz Cherry Brandy
.75 oz lime juice
.5 oz simple syrup (1 to 1 ratio of sugar & water on stove if you want to make it yourself)
3 dashes cherry bitters
1.5 oz seltzer water
Add ingredients to a shaker & mix, and voila, your cocktail is ready :)
** you might notice the cocktail below is clear… I told Jenny I was surprised it wasn’t a red cocktail and she reminded me that the brandy is the purest form of the fruit and it’s not supposed to be sweet or colored** Kind of refreshing if you ask me!
1 oz Mango Brandy
.5 oz pineapple juice
Champagne or Prosecco
2 oz Apple Brandy
1/8 oz 100% pure maple syrup
4 dashes apple bitters
Rhine Hall Sidecar (and my personal favorite)
2 oz Rhine Hall Apple Brandy
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
5 dashes orange bitters
I also want to include a recipe with the below Rhine Hall La Normande “Pommeau” which was inspired by a trip Jenny and her husband Taylor took to Normandy. The brandy is 18% alcohol compared to the 40% of the other bottles, so it’s a little easier to drink…
Classic Bourbon Apple:
If you’re looking for more cocktail recipes, Rhine Hall offers many recipes for you to make at home. I personally love drinking Rhine Hall straight up or mixing it with La Croix soda water & lemon. Delish!