Nearly every Sunday night, Lindsay and I celebrate National Cognac Day. It’s our time to brainstorm editorial content for the upcoming week, edit videos and plan our next trips. And Lindsay knows in order to motivate me to work on a Sunday, she has to coax me with a cocktail: the Vieux Carre cocktail specifically, which is a boozy, stirred cocktail that features cognac as one of the ingredients. Here’s a photo from one of those Sunday nights when Lindsay’s kitchen turns into a bar:
Cognac was discovered ages ago by ingenious 17th century French winemakers that needed a way to preserve wine on long voyages. Therefore, they distilled it first. From the barrel aging that took place on route to the importer, this distilled wine transformed into a tawny-colored, delicious new drink that the Dutch wine merchants called brandewijn. Eventually, it would be known as cognac after its birthplace—the Cognac region of France.
Typically, cognac is known as sexy after dinner drink to swirl around in a snifter, paired with chocolate or a cigar. However, cognac makes for a mighty fine mixer in cocktails as well.
Of course, our favorite cognac cocktail is the Vieux Carre recipe that hails from New Orleans, but here are 6 more to try from some of America’s best bartenders in honor of the holiday on June 4th:
1. Regent Punch | Julio Cabrera, Regent Cocktail Club, Miami
1/2 oz. Arrack
1/2 oz. Cognac
1/2 oz. Jamaican rum
1/2 oz. Curaçao
3/4 oz. Fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. Orange simple
3/4 oz. Green tea
Top with champagne
Build drink in a long glass and stir, add ice cube, top with champagne, garnish with orange slice and lemon slice.
2. Dovetail Julep by Eric Johnson, Sycamore Den, San Diego
1 1/2 oz. Cognac
1 oz. Gin
1-3 dashes Peach Bitters
1 sugar cube
5 mint leaves
1/2 oz. Absinthe
Mint sprig for garnish
Start with a large pinch of fresh mint and a sugar cube, dropped into a julep cup. If you don’t have a julep cup it will still taste delicious. Add gin, cognac, dash of peach bitters, absinthe and lightly muddle to extract the mint. Add your ice and poke it with a straw to keep the ice from diluting. Garnish with mint sprig.
3. Cognac & Spice by Eric Brooks, CBD Provisions, Dallas
3/4 oz. Fresh lime
3/4 oz. Simple syrup
1/4 oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1 oz. Sharecropper Cabernet Sauvignon
1 oz. Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
1 star anise
Shake together and garnish with star anise.
4. Prescription Sazerac by Brandon Phillips, Bottlefork, Chicago
1 oz. Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
1 oz. Rye whiskey (Rittenhouse recommended)
2 heavy dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 lump Turbinado sugar
Splash of absinthe (North Shore Sirene recommended)
Mix ingredients together and serve.
5. Mediterranean Shores by H. Joseph Ehrmann, Elixer, San Francisco
1 oz. Square One Bergamot
1 oz. Cognac
1 oz. Carpano Antica
Pour into a mixing cup with ice. Stir well. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with orange zest.
Curious to find out more about the history of the cognac spirit and which distilleries to visit when in Cognac, France? Check out my “Cognac: Vineyards of Nobility” article I wrote for Cigar & Spirits Magazine.
For more info on visiting France’s Cognac region, visit the official Cognac website.
Cocktail photos provided by each bar or restaurant.