You might not normally associate cognac with June. But that didn’t stop someone from scheduling National Cognac Day for today, June 4th. So regardless of whether or not cognac seems seasonally appropriate, we’re going to drink it this week (we all need a drink, certainly).
Since it’s all too easy to grab a bottle of VSOP cognac, crack it open, and pour yourself a glass, we decided to switch things up this year. We’re focused on cognacs to enjoy in a cocktail — the sazerac, vieux carre, French 75, sidecar, or any other drink you’re willing to sub cognac for whiskey in. And to get the top-shelf intel on which cognacs to mix with, we asked some of our favorite bartenders for their input.
Pete Stanton, head bartender at Ai Fiori in New York City
I love Guillon-Painturaud VSOP. It’s floral, honeyed, and not muddied with Boisé. I feel when you make a stirred drink the battle is with it getting too rich and muddy. This cognac is a steal at its price and makes a delicious crushable cocktail.
Pierre Ferrand Reserve
Kyle Harlan, beverage director at Mission Taco Joint in Kansas City
I like cheap brandy to mix most of the time, some E&J makes one heck of a sazerac. But if I’m not paying for it, Pierre Ferrand Reserve makes great drinks. Alexandre Gabriel has, in my opinion, perfected his craft. He is a master blender.
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Jim Richard, chef at Stinky’s Fish Camp in South Walton, Florida
I’m not sure why, but I started drinking cognac before whiskey and fast became a Hennessy Fan. Partially because of the Richard Hennessy-Jim Richard name connection. As far as cocktails go, this is where the New Orleans roots come in and the XO or the paradise are my favorite.
Martell Blue Swift
Gord Hannah, head bartender at The Drake Hotel in Toronto
Whether you use a whiskey or a cognac, a drink like the sazerac is an iconic cocktail that deserves a little indulgence on the base spirit. This is a drink that should showcase both its French and its American roots. When I use cognac as the base, I usually reach for Martell Blue Swift. Technically this is not a true cognac because they age it in Bourbon casks from Kentucky rather than French oak but try it in a sazerac. Trust me, Blue Swift is going to make you a great cocktail with a smooth and long finish.
Maison Rouge VSOP
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Been low, but the regimen remains the same! No special occasions required! Just keeping the VSOP rotation, rotating! #vsopluis #cognaclife #rotation #hobby #new #fan #taste #cognac #cocktails #fancydrinks #ontherocks #thirsty #adultbeverage #craft #lifestyle #cheers #lovewhatido #weekend #fridaynight #maisonrougecognac @maisonrougecognac
Ian Clark, bar supervisor at Topside in Baltimore
Typically, I use Maison Rouge VSOP cognac for mixing in cocktails. It’s a great, inexpensive, balanced cognac that is an ideal vehicle for complimenting the essence of the rye and elevating the subtleties from your vermouth, bitters, and Benedictine in a drink like a sazerac. It’s also a great cognac for sidecars.
Catalina Borer, bartender at Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia
If I were requested to create a cocktail with cognac I would use Camus VSOP, mainly because I feel that it is the “fruitiest” of the cognacs commonly available. It has strong citrus notes and a sweet caramel agave type of structure.
Kira Webster, beverage director at Indo in St. Louis
Martell VS. It’s a smooth cognac and the baking spice notes from the barrels add a little more depth to the flavor profile. The Cinnamon and light cocoa notes also complement cocktails beautifully.
Remy Martin 1738
Piero Procida, bartender at The London West Hollywood in Los Angeles
I am a big fan of Remy 1738 Accord Royal. Remy itself has not fallen into the tasteless trap of mass production and they still continue to make high-quality cognacs. The 1738 is a middle-tier cognac that I think tastes better than some of the many high-end cognacs out there. Prevalent in sweet butterscotch notes, it is perfectly balanced without that peppery bite found in so many other cognacs. This is what makes it such a great choice — its mellowness does not overpower all the other ingredients thus creating a nicely-balanced drink that easy on the palate, allowing all flavors of each ingredient to come through.
Park Carte Blanche
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Un délice: Cat’s Pajamas’ Level 3 cocktail from @coinopsacramento with @parkcognac, aperol, St Germain, Lemon, Egg White – Smooth and well balanced cocktail !!! #coinuproom #sacramento #cognacpark #cognaccocktail #frenchbrandy #grapebrandy #parkcarteblanche #vs #cognac #distillerproducergrower #since1880
H. Joseph Erhmann, proprietor of ELIXIR in San Francisco
Park Carte Blanche is both financially accessible and perfectly balanced for cocktails. It’s also a brand a lot of people still don’t know. I’m also loving the Reviseur VSOP right now.
Pierre Ferrand 1840
Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami
Pierre Ferrand 1840. It is Maison Ferrrand’s mixing cognac and does an excellent job delivering a balanced cognac flavor but not getting lost to the other components. This is especially helpful if you prefer a prescription sazerac to compliment your favorite rye.