Back on the Fourth of July, we celebrated our Independence Day. The day was (hopefully) full socially distant good times around barbecues and a beer cooler. Well, now it’s France’s turn. That’s because July 14 is Bastille Day (also known as Fête Nationale), the national day of France.
The holiday is celebrated to remember the storming of Bastille on July 14, 1789. For those without a history degree, this was a major climax in the French Revolution. It’s a big deal. And since our big summer holidays are over (and we really need something else to celebrate), why not take a minute to toast to our French friends across the pond by sipping on a nice glass of Cognac?
To get expert advice on the French grape-based eau de vie, we decided to turn the professionals. We asked a handful of well-known bartenders to tell us the best cognacs (and one Armagnac) to toast to Bastille Day.
Daniel Yang, lead bartender at Rosina inside The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas
You really can’t go wrong with Hennessy XO. It’s a truly lovely Cognac made with the best grapes perfect for the French National Day.
Remy Martin VSOP
Leo Morjakov, bartender at The Ebbitt Room at The Virginia Hotel in Cape May, New Jersey
You can’t go wrong with Remy Martin VSOP. You can drink it neat or mix it with your favorite cocktail. It’s perfectly suited for both.
Nazar Hrab, beverage director at The Pineapple Club in New York City
Last Bastille Day we had Remy Martin. Would definitely recommend it. Another great Cognac is Camus Vs. It’s a great buy if you’re going to branch out past the usual Henny, Remy, and Courvoisier. It’s full of rich oak with vanilla, dried fruits, and subtle spice.
Jorge Centeno, chief spirits officer at the Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest, Illinois
Hennessy Paradis is my pick for Bastille Day. It is a drink fit for royalty: smooth, luxurious, and worthy of a celebration.
Remy Martin 1738
Thomas Nesselhauf, bartender at Datz in Tampa, Florida
The best, if you have a little over $4K lying around, is Louis XIII. The best for its price point is Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal. 1738 marks the year Louis XV of France exclusively recognized the House of Rémy Martin for its quality and craftsmanship. For $80 a bottle, you can drink an authentic Cognac that’s rooted in tradition and time, and once honored by the King himself. Think baked spices, mellowed butterscotch, and dark chocolate on the palate.
Domaine Tariquet Armagnac
Melissa Reigle, beverage manager and head bartender at Byblos in Miami
Cognac? Bastille Day is all about what is quintessentially French and inherently rebellious. So, forget those stuffy, formal Cognacs and grab a bottle of Domaine Tariquet Armagnac. Armagnac is the oldest form of liquor distilled in France. Full of fruit, vanilla, and baking spice flavors it is wilder and freer than its more restricted cousin from the north. À votre santé.
Martell Blue Swift
Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami
Martell Blue Swift is the marriage of a VSOP cognac with the vanilla and oak of bourbon barrels is worth celebrating on its own. Santé.
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Frantjasko Laonora, head mixologist at Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort in Curaçao
Hennessy VS has already earned its name worldwide since it’s been around for many years. Over 250 years to be exact. Also, this Cognac’s headquarters is located in France. What better way to celebrate Bastille Day with a Cognac distilled and based in France?
Pierre Ferrand 1840
This Cognac is designed to be a throwback to the 1800s. It’s floral, subtly fruity, and full of vanilla and caramel sweetness.
This Cognac from Château de Cognac is worth the $50-plus price tag. It’s smooth, rich, yet somehow light in body and full of dried fruits, toffee, and subtle pepper flavors. Perfect for mixing, but better suited for slow sipping.