You might not normally think of cognac as a spring or summer spirit, but it absolutely is. Whiskey aside, what could be better than sipping on glass of smooth, rich cognac while you sit around a campfire? Beer is fine, but it’s a lot more satisfying on a hot, sweaty day. Cool summer nights are for snifters of cognac.
The summer appeal of this French spirit is why we celebrate National Cognac Day on June 4th instead of in December, January, or February. That said, the thought of actually buying a bottle of cognac seems like a daunting experience to many a drinker. It’s no fun walking aisle after aisle at your local liquor store unsure of which exotic-looking bottle to purchase.
To help you navigate this sweet spirit, we tapped some of our favorite bartenders, asking them to tell us their go-to cognacs. They didn’t disappoint. From Hennessey to Remy and everything in between, there’s a cognac out there for every taste.
Hennessy Master Blender’s Selection
Cassandra Zuger, lead bartender at The Twisted Frenchman in Pittsburgh
Cognac is not your typical cocktail spirit unless disguised in things like Vieux Carré. For this particular spirit, I go big or go home and definitely skip the rocks for this one. I’ve had the pleasure to sample Hennessy Paradis, it is velvety and amazingly smooth. But, for this, I’ll take Hennessy Master Blender’s Selection.
Remy Martin VS
Josh Cameron, head bartender at Boulton & Watt in New York City
My colleague, the King Kevin M, got me into Remy Martin VS. It must be a Queens thing. Because I love it. Classic, smooth, strong, and to the point.
Paul Walker, mixologist at The Dawson in Chicago
What’s my go-to Cognac? That’s easy. I thoroughly appreciate Courvoisier’s XO cognac. Delightfully jammy with a balancing cocoa nib and red spice finish.
Jane Danger, national mixologist at Pernod Ricard
It’s Martell V.S.O.P for me. I enjoy the blend of ages two-ten years. It hits all over the palate with red fruit notes, dried fruit, spice, citrus, and vanilla. It’s great for sipping and makes a delightful GH Mumm French 75.
Spencer Elliott, head bartender at The Boogie Room in New York City
The house that Richard Hennessey built is where my cognac desires live. Drenched in history, there is more time, effort, and dedication put into a bottle of Hennessey than most brown spirits combined. The Hennessey Black is my go-to, while not readily available at most bars this affordable bottle is a lighter, more mixable version than that of the VS (Very Special) and without having to spring for the costly VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) this bottle makes for sipping or mixing joy.
Pierre Ferrand Selection des Anges
John Stanton, beverage manager at Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
What’s my go-to cognac? Pierre Ferrand Selection des Anges. Amazing cognac, great value for the price, tremendous depth of flavor that continues to unfold for full minutes after sipping. Beautiful stuff.