Cognac is a drink that conveys class. It is rich, deep, and complex in flavor, and only produced in a small territory in France. As a society, we see it as something that rich old men sit around in smoke filled rooms and enjoy while making business deals. It enjoyed immense popularity in Europe, and the popularity was brought over to the United States. After a fairly steep fall near the end of the 19th century, it was revived in the 1980’s by an emerging Chinese taste in the drink, and then in the 1990’s by the rap community. It has returned to some small prominence, enough to have it in bars, but not a wide selection.
When people think of cognac, the one thing they usually do not think of is a mixed drink. Cognac has been in mixed drinks for a very long time, and has created some very iconic drinks. Cocktails that have lasted for decades, and have inspired the creation of others. If you have heard of one, it is most likely the Sidecar.
1.5 oz. cognac
.75 oz. Cointreau
.75 oz. lemon juice
Sugar, for frosting the rim of the glass
Lemon wedge for a garnish
Run a lemon wedge around the edge of a cocktail glass. Lightly run the damp rim through the sugar to lightly coat it. Combine the cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice in a glass with ice and shake. Strain the drink into the prepared glass, and garnish with the lemon.
Prohibition was not kind to the United States. Any drinks that came out of this era generally were created to hide the taste of the liquor, which was awful. Except for the Sidecar. This is a well balanced drink, emphasizing the sweetness of the congac through the Cointreau (an orange liqueur), but balancing it with the tartness of the lemon juice.
Between the Sheets
1 oz. white rum (Bacardi or Appleton Reserve)
1 oz. Cointreau
.5 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. cognac
Chill a cocktail glass. Combine the rum, Cointreau, lemon juice, and cognac in a glass with ice and shake. Strain the drink into the chilled glass.
Between the Sheets is another cocktail that comes out of Prohibition. It is a brother to the Sidecar, just with addition of the rum. It takes away some of the smoothness of the drink, but adds some kick that the Prohibition set was looking for. If you are drinking on the sly, you want cocktails that have the biggest kick in the shortest time, and this one fit the bill.
Fish House Punch (single serving)
1.5 to 2 oz. of superfine sugar (depends on your taste)
2 oz. water
1 oz. lemon juice
2 oz. dark rum
1 oz. cognac
.125 oz. peach brandy
First dissolve the sugar in just enough water to do the trick. Once it is dissolved, stir the lemon juice in. Stir the rest of the ingredients into the water, and serve over ice.
This was good enough for the Founding Fathers, and it had better be good enough for us. It is said to have been created in Philadelphia in 1732, and present through the Revolutionary War and most of the wrangling of the Constitution. It is refreshing and tasty in the warm summer months, yet has oomph. There are recipes where you can make larger batches for parties. Fourth of July is coming. What would be more patriotic than a drink that the signers of the Declaration of Independence enjoyed?
1.5 oz. cognac
1.5 oz. Hpnotiq
Combine the ingredients into a glass with ice and stir. Strain the drink into an old fashioned glass over ice.
The Avengers movie is doing so well; it seemed good to mention one of them. (Come on hundreds of millions!) Hpnotiq, a vodka based liqueur with fruit juices and cognac blended in, was introduced at a launch event. The people who organized the event noticed that the women loved the bright blue drink, but the men were not too enthused by it. One of the bartenders, Victor Alvarez, mixed some Hennessy into the Hpnotiq to cut the fruity and bump up the strength, and it was a hit.
1.5 oz. cognac
.75 oz. amaretto (or Grand Marnier)
Combine ingredients into an old fashioned glass over ice.
The standard version involves amaretto, but you can substitute Grand Marnier an orangier flavor. Both add sweetness to the cognac which makes it a perfect after dinner drink or night cap. You can even add it all to coffee for a warm dessert drink.
June 4th is National Cognac Day, and it is perfectly fine to enjoy this exquisite liquor on its own in a snifter. However, there are a plenty of classic cocktails you can experience that have cognac as part of them. These are just a few. If you are looking for some suggestions and more information about cognac itself, this article will help you find what you are looking for. I highly suggest you try the Sidecar. It is delightful. Cheers!