Cognac: A luxurious taste of history

Mark DeWolf|Cocktail Confidential

 

The Cognac region, with its gentle rolling hills and sleepy country towns, lays a short drive north of Bordeaux and just a quick river barge ride away from the Atlantic Ocean.

Here in quiet cellars, blissfully unaware of the world around them, rests some of the world’s most luxurious spirits. Their sleep is only periodically disturbed, when the caretakers of Cognac, the Maître de Chai of the various Cognac houses, draw off a little of the liquid to create their latest blend.

These grand spirits were first created by 16th century Dutch settlers looking for a way to preserve the local wine for the long journey back to Holland. At first they were single distilled but over time, it was discovered that double distilling the tart wines of the region and aging them in oak barrels created smoother and more balanced spirits. While the Dutch invented the techniques, it was only after they became the fancy of the English and Irish well-to-do in the 18th nd 19th centuries that Cognac took its place as one of the world’s most prized spirits. The names of some of its most famous houses, such as Hennessy, continue to reflect the British influence.

Crafting Cognac takes a patience and skill like few other spirits. The most prized Cognac are made only from grapes grown in the finest growing areas known as Grande Champagne, Petit Champagne or Fine Champagne (blends of both) and represent spirits drawn from casks aged for decades and even a century or more in oak cask.

The finest spirits, such as Cognac, represent much more than simply a taste experience. They represent years of meticulous effort, the highest level of craftsmanship and ultimately are packaged in containers that share a similar commitment to style and design. This holiday season, consider gifting one of these premium spirits for those in your life that share a similar commitment to being the best in all their endeavours.

 

The Sidecar

1 Serving

  • 1 fl oz Cognac
  • 1/2 fl oz Triple Sec
  • 1/4 fl oz lemon juice
  • Sugar
  • Orange Slice

Directions: Place Cognac, Triple Sec and juice in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and then strain into a chilled sugar rimmed cocktail glass or snifter. Garnish with an orange slice.

 

Cognac Alexander

1 Serving

  • 3/4 fl oz Cognac
  • 3/4 fl oz crème de cacao
  • 3/4 fl oz heavy cream
  • Pinch nutmeg, freshly grated

Directions: Place Cognac, crème de cacao and heavy cream in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and then strain into chilled cocktail glass. Sprinkle nutmeg on top of drink.

 

Honey & Spice

1 Serving

  • 3/4 fl oz St-Remy French Honey Brandy
  • 3/4 fl oz Drambuie
  • Orange peel

Directions: Place St-Remy French Honey Brandy and Drambuie in an ice-filled rocks glass. Run orange peel along rim of glass and drop into cocktail.

 

Occasions recommends: 

Hardy Cognac VSOP, 750 ml, $65.99

Remy VSOP, 750 ml, $74.98

St-Remy French Honey Brandy, 700 ml, $29.99

 

Next Week: Ring in New Year’s Eve with classic cocktails inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood.

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