Drink

8 Cognac Cocktails Built for Winter

Drink Lists cognac
Share Tweet Submit Pin
8 Cognac Cocktails Built for Winter

Cognac is rich, spicy, woodsy, flowery, and luxuriant. More importantly, there’s something ineffably wintry about it; it just feels right on a cold evening. There are lots of things you can do with Cognac and it should be part of any serious home bartender’s arsenal.

Cognac is a member of the family of ancient and mysterious elixirs distilled from wine, broadly known as brandy. Specifically, this one’s named for the town of Cognac, where it originated. World-famous and widely distributed brands include Hennessy, Courvoisier and Remy Martin, but there are an estimated 200 or so producers. The base for Cognac is white wine, mostly Ugni Blanc (also known as Saint-Emillion or Trebbiano), which is often a rather dull and undistinguished character as far as still white wines go, but through the magic of double-distillation and long aging in oak barrels, it produces varied and often marvelous spirits with nutty, spicy flavors and, often, a long vanilla finish.

Cognac is a serious shapeshifter, so whether you enjoy it straight as a digestif or just like to rock an opulently-appointed home bar, it’s good to know that, like people, Cognac changes a lot with age. In its youth, it will likely express apricots or peaches, and sometimes pears, with light florals and oaky notes. A 10-year-old Cognac will lean more toward almonds and hazelnuts, orrisroot (iris) and honeysuckle and sometimes violets. At 20, you can expect a candied cherry or orange marmalade characteristic and if you happen upon a 30-to-40-year-old bottle, some interesting tropical notes creep in; often coconut and occasionally passionfruit, along with sandalwood, cedar and other “incense” aromatics. Cognac labeled “VS” (Very Special) is a youngun’ that can be blended from various vintages, but the youngest element of the batch will have seen at least two years of oak-time. “VSOP” has a minimum of four; a “Napoleon” is aged a minimum of six years, and starting in April 2018, an “XO” will be aged a minimum of 10 years.

Familiar spirits made from Cognac also include Grand Marnier and Chambord.

Many Mixology 101, must-know, classic cocktails require Cognac: the Sidecar and the Corpse Reviver among them. Recipes for the oldie-but-goodies are widely available and any aspiring cocktailista should be able to produce a couple of them. Meanwhile, if you’re ready to expand your repertoire, here are a handful of variations from some destination watering holes in New York and San Francisco. Now, it’s just possible that you don’t happen to have a stockpile of exotic handcrafted bitters or that oops, you’ve run out of absinthe again. But even if you don’t have easy access to a fully-stocked mise-en-place you can use these recipes as templates and let your palate and your imagination lead the way.

Carried Away

carried away.jpeg
Matthew Grippo, Blackbird, San Francisco; Photo by The Taste SF

Ingredients
1.5 oz. Rye Bread-infused Cognac V.S.
.5 oz. Cocchi Torino
.5 oz. Bonal
Bar spoon of Benedictine
Peychaud’s bitters
Pu-erh Tea-Infused Absinthe

Directions: Stir all ingredients with ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a large rocks glass over fresh ice and garnish with a lemon twist.


Stinger Royale

stinger royale the taste sf.jpeg
John Ottman, Holy Water, San Francisco; Photo by The Taste SF

Ingredients
2 oz. Cognac V.S.
.25 oz. Creme de Menthe
.25 o.z Creme de Cacao
5 dashes Absinthe
2 (small) dashes Angostura Bitters

Directions: Stir all ingredients with ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a large old fashioned glass filled with ice and garnish with a mint sprig.


Elixir de Cognac

elixer de.jpeg
H. Joseph Ehrmann, Elixir, San Francisco; Photo by The Taste SF

Ingredients
1.5 oz. Cognac X.O.
.5 oz. Crème de Cassis
.5 oz. Small Hand Foods Pineapple Gum Syrup
1 oz. Lemon Juice
1 oz. Egg White

Directions: Build ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a large old fashioned glass filled with ice and garnish with an orange twist.


A Cure For What Ails You

Dalva A Cure.jpeg
Erik Reichborn-Kjennerud, Dalva, San Francisco; Photo by The Taste SF

Ingredients
1.5 oz. Cognac V.S.
1 oz. Bonal
.5 oz. California Fernet
House-made Whiskey Bitters
House-made Smoked Pear Bitters

Directions: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a large old fashioned glass with a big ice cube and garnish with an orange twist.


Kind of Fancy

kind of fancy.jpeg
Jacques Bezuidenhout, Wildhawk, San Francisco; Photo by The Taste SF

Ingredients
1.5 oz. Cognac V.S.
.75 oz. Wild Turkey 101 Rye
.5 oz. Bin 27 Port
.25 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
2 Dashes Mole Bitters

Directions: Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and strain into a Canadian Glencairn. Garnish with an orange twist.


Brandy Crusta

 Brandy Crusta Geert Teuwen.jpeg
Samuel Gauthier, Boilermaker, New York; Photo by Geert Teuwen

Ingredients
2 oz. Cognac V.S.
.5 oz. Dry Curaçao
1 bar spoon Maraschino
.25 oz. Lemon Juice
2 dashes Peychaud bitters

Directions: Stir ingredients in a cocktail glass with ice and strain into a Nick & Nora glass with a sugar rim. Garnish with a large curl of lemon.


Bonne Nouvelle

Bonne Nouvelle Geert Teuwen.jpeg
Max Green, Amor y Amargo, New York; Photo by Geert Teuwen

Ingredients
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Rootbeer Bitters
.25 oz. Meletti
.75 oz. Cocchi Torino
.75 oz.Cognac V.S.
.75 oz. Rye

Directions: Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass and strain. Garnish with a lemon twist.


Side by Side

Side by Side Geert Teuwen.jpeg
Natasha David, Nitecap, New York inspired by
the Sidecar; Photo by Geert Teuwen

Ingredients
1.5 oz. Cognac V.S.
.75 oz. Lemon Juice
.5 oz. Mathilde Pear
.5 oz. Lustau Amontillado Sherry
.5 oz. Cinnamon Syrup

Directions: Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and strain into a coup glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.


ShareTweetSubmitPinMore