In years past, the French brandy Cognac probably conjured images of tweed-clad gentlemen swirling swifters in a sea of cigar smoke. And today, an affection for the liquor is still a requisite for a certain, distinguished breed of individual. But it’s no secret Cognac today has acquired a younger, more diverse following (fans include hip-hop artists like Busta Rhymes and Chris bridges, i.e. Ludacris, who recently released his own Conjure brand). Another example today’s Cognac differs from that of yesteryear: the proliferation of Cognac-based cocktails, served in Rocks and martini glasses rather than swifters.
In recent months producers have been paying more careful attention to the Cognac cocktail. Mixologists from around the world recently met at the third annual International Cognac Summit (in Cognac). The goal? To refresh classic Cognac concoctins like the Sidecar and Sazerac and give them a more contemporary twist (Recipes for two of the more impressive results—as determined by summit attendee and Wine Enthusiast contributor Janice Fuhrman— as well as a recipe for the Summit, another cognac cocktail created at the conference three years ago, are provided below). And in 2009, well-known, prestigious Cognac house Courvoisier released a younger line called Exclusif retailing for about $50. Made from a blend of six to 12-yeard old Cognacs, Exclusif is designed specifically for mixing—recipes provided by Courvoisier are listed below—though is suitable for sipping as well. A bottle perhaps representative of the variety of Cognac lovers today.
The Blackberry Fusion (Recipe courtesy of Courvoisier)
2 oz. Courvoisier Exclusif
8 mint leaves
1oz lemon juice
1/2 ounce honey
In a cocktail shaker combine the Mint leaves, blackberries, lemon juice and honey and muddle. Add the Courvoisier. Shake and strain into an ice filled old fashioned martini glass.
The Winter Cosmo (Recipe courtesy of Courvoisier)
.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
.5 oz. simple syrup
1.5 oz. Courvoisier Exclusif
.5 oz. DeKuyper Triple Sec
2 oz. cranberry juice
Garnish: lemon twist
Combine Ingredients in 3 piece shaker and shake vigorously to chill. Strain into chilled 10 oz. martini/cocktail glass and garnish.
A Sidecar Ride Through Wine Country (Cognac Variation on a Sidecar) (Recipe from the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac)
1 ¾ oz X.O Cognac
3 bar spoons orange pekoe tea
1 oz lemon juice
¾ oz Sauternes
¾ oz honey syrup
3 dashes orange bitters
1 dash egg white
Infuse the tea into the X.O cognac for 3 to 5 minutes. In a cocktail shaker, pour the infused cognac (with tea). Add lemon juice, Sauternes, honey syrup, bitters and egg white. Add ice and shake well. Fine strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a little loose tea on the foam.
Aloha from Cognac (Cognac variation on a Tom Collins) (Recipe from the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac)
1 ¾ oz. V.S.O.P Cognac
3 Pineapple slices
3 Ginger slices
½ oz. Cane syrup
1 oz. lemon juice
1 Bar spoon Bénédictine
1 Bar spoon Vanilla syrup
Classic lemonade to top off
Pour the cane syrup into a cocktail shaker. Add and muddle 3 pineapple slices and 3 fine ginger slices, Add Bénédictine liqueur, vanilla syrup and lemon juice. Add ice and shake well. Fine strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top off with classic lemonade and garnish with a pineapple leaf.
Summit Cocktail (Recipe from the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac)
1 piece lime peel, about the size of a quarter
1/2-inch piece peeled ginger root, cut crosswise into quarter-size slices
1 1/2 ounces cognac
4 or 5 ice cubes
2 ounces freshly squeezed lemonade (see headnote)
1 long piece cucumber peel, for garnish
Place the lime peel and ginger slices in an old-fashioned glass. Add 3/4 ounce of the cognac and gently muddle. Fill the glass halfway full with ice cubes; stir well for 5 seconds. Add the remaining 3/4 ounce of cognac and the lemonade. Rub the rim of the glass with the underside of the cucumber peel, then drop the peel into the drink. Stir for 5 seconds, then serve.