When most people think of cognac, visions of curling up next to a roaring fire while casually swirling a snifter of the chestnut-colored liquor come to mind. However, this French spirit shouldn’t be reserved only for winter sipping. In fact, a number of inventive bartenders around the country are serving summer-friendly cognac cocktails at their bars that will make you think twice before you order a gin and tonic (again).
Here are a few cocktails we’ll be knocking back this summer:
Arnaud’s French 75, New Orleans
This French Quarter stalwart has been cranking out award-winning cocktails—including its namesake, the French 75—for decades. And there’s a reason why Arnuad’s regularly ranks as one of the top bars in the world. The bartenders here, including Chris Hannah, know full well how to make a balanced cocktail with a precision you don’t often see at any old watering hole. Case in point: the Bishop, a tipple Hannah makes comprised of Cognac VS, Pineau de Charente, Sorel, lime cordial, and club soda. The result is pure summer in a glass.
Tough Luck Club, Tucson, Arizona
It’s summer pretty much year round in this Southern Arizona city, so there’s really no point in waiting for the thermometer to drop to a certain level before cracking a bottle of cognac open, because you’ll be waiting a while. At Tough Luck Club, a speakeasy located in the basement of a pizzeria that was once a funeral home, bartender Niklas Moore has been making a cocktail called Lift the Curse, a mix of Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal, Amontillado Sherry, Meletti Amaro, and orange bitters. One-hundred-plus-degree weather be damned.
The Long Island Bar, New York City
The Long Island Bar, located a few blocks from the Brooklyn waterfront, has been the go-to neighborhood bar for locals and traveling sailors alike for more than a half century. So when it reopened in 2013 with a fresh menu and a cocktail list that rivaled newer cocktail lounges, it was game on. Bartender Timothy Miner has been serving a cocktail to humidity-weary patrons all summer called The Frenchmen Street, a mix of over-proof Louis Royer Force 53 VSOP Cognac, sweet vermouth, Pierre Ferrand dry curacao, white crème de cacao, and a dash of Peychaud’s Bitters.
Remedy, Whisler’s Austin, Texas
Whisler’s is a bar where “dealer’s choice” is a common order. But sometimes it’s nice to not have to gamble, especially when it comes to your liver and taste buds, and just order a drink that you know you’ll enjoy. Case in point: the Summertime Remedy. For this craft cocktail, bartender Brett Esler vigorously shakes a blend of over-proof Louis Royer Force 53 VSOP Cognac, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, Lustau East India Solera Sherry, and a whole organic egg and serves the frothy liquid in a cordial glass.
Gaspar Brasserie, San Francisco
It’s obvious that Gaspar Brasserie, a French-inspired restaurant, means business when its upstairs bar is called the Cognac Room. In fact, it boasts San Francisco’s largest selection of brandy-based drinks, which, at last count, equaled about 50 cocktails. As far as cognac is concerned, the bar serves a nice selection of pre-and-post Prohibition classics like the Judgette (cognac, gin, lime, pear, and absinthe) and the Champs Elysees (cognac, Chartreuse, lemon, and Angostura and lemon bitters).
The Remedy, Vail, Colorado
This summer the Four Seasons Vail revealed a complete overhaul of its lobby lounge bar and cocktail program, and the result is The Remedy, an establishment slinging beverages for whatever ails you. Have a hangover? Well, you’re in luck. Beverage manager Steven Teavers makes a riff on the Corpse Reviver called Remedy No. 1, a blend of Rémy Martin VSOP Cognac, Earl Grey tea-infused Busnel Calvados, and Contratto Vermouth Rosso, topped off with two dashes of homemade peach bitters. A better choice, in our humble opinion, than popping an Advil.