June 4th is National Cognac Day! One of my favorite days of the year, and the perfect excuse to sip cognac neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail. Luckily for you, you can do it all because when celebrating this national day, it’s important to try cognac many different ways. For those of you who are new to Cognac, it is a brandy made from grapes grown in Cognac, France.
I had the pleasure of visiting the region in October 2018, and it was a fantastic trip. It’s a beautiful area filled with food, culture, wine, and of course, Cognac! They enjoy this high-quality brandy in cocktails as well as neat, and you will find many different producers. Since summer is just around the corner, Cognac is one of those sips that I enjoy with a cigar outside in the nice warm weather. They are fruit forward, bold, and have nice spice notes generally.
Each cognac is different, and I had the pleasure recently to experiment with three delicious Cognacs including:
De Luze XO Fine Champagne Cognac– Light amber in color with floral notes, figs, and candied orange. It has a nice oaky taste that’s elegant and mellow with a long finish. This cognac is everything a fine Champagne Cognac should be! ~$151
Hine Rare VSOP Cognac- A terrific VSOP from Hine! Rare is also a Fine Champagne Cognac which means that the Eaux-de-vie used are all from the Grande or Petite Champagne areas. This beauty boasts aromas of cooked nectarines, apricots, and melon followed by a long finish and some brioche flavors. It’s elegant and delicate and can be enjoyed with a large ice cube (at least that’s how I do it). ~$60
Bache Gabrielsen Tre Kors Cognac– This is a nice cognac that I enjoyed in a cocktail with tonic water and lemon. Simple, fresh, and delicious. It’s deep amber in color and stored in oak for two years. It’s still youthful in flavor and lively on the palate with a round, soft, long finish. ~ $40
All of these cognacs I tasted neat, and then in a cocktail just to see the variations. My favorite was De Luze because sipping it on its own is just outstanding, but add a little ginger beer and a mint sprig, and you have yourself a perfect aperitif! HINE I enjoyed with apple juice and a cinnamon stick, however again, loved it with a large ice cube on its own. Tre Kors by Bache Gabrielsen was also wonderful, nice and spice driven, but the simplicity of adding tonic water and lemon really made this one a great cocktail cognac!
Still, need more reasons to celebrate National Cognac Day on June 4th? Thanks to Teuwen Communications and Bartenders from around the world, here are five more reasons to sip Cognac as well as ways to enjoy it!
Reason 1: It’s Damn Delicious
“Celebrate for the simple reason that cognac is delicious. Swapping out cognac for rye in a Manhattan or bourbon in a sour or daisy is as easy as picking up a different bottle, so it’s certainly not a tough spirit to mix with, especially the younger V.S. and V.S.O.P. bottlings that don’t cost an arm and a leg.” — Joaquín Simó of Pouring Ribbons, New York
Reason 2: Experience the OG Spirit
“It is the original brown spirit of America. French settlers brought the best of France to America hoping to reproduce its elegance in the New World. It is believed that cognac was in one of America’s first and most influential cocktails, the Sazerac.” — Tobin Shea of Redbird, Los Angeles
Reason 3: Take Your Meal to the Next Level
“Cognac provides a great realm of flavor, texture, and aroma that has yet to be extensively explored in modern American mixology. Its acidity makes it an exceptionally good spirit for pairing with a wide range of foods, both neat and in cocktails. Not many spirits can make that claim as a category.” — Cognac Educator H. Joseph Ehrmann of Elixir, San Francisco
Reason 4: It Hits All the Right Notes
“There is a myriad of flavors in a single bottle of Cognac. Because by law it is aged for no less than two years in oak, there are flavors of vanilla and spice, and because it is made from fruit, you will find fruit and floral notes. On its own, it’s a journey in a glass, but it is also one of the most versatile spirits to mix with. It shines equally well in bright citrusy cocktails as it does in rich stirred spirit-forward cocktails and everywhere in between.” — Cognac Educator Kellie Thorn of Empire State South, Atlanta
Reason 5: “The One” is Out There Waiting for You
“There has never been a better time to enjoy this storied spirit. There is a cognac for every palate and budget, you just have to seek them out — but that’s the fun part.” — Cognac Educator Ms. Franky Marshall, Modern Bartender, New York
Did you know 87.4 million bottles of Cognac were exported to the US in 2018! Always remember, eat what you like and drink what you love. Please pair responsibly!