There are four major Cognac houses: Hennessy, Rémy Martin, Martell and Courvoisier. You probably have tried a cognac from at least one of these producers. My personal favourite is Martell. But what is Cognac? Can you enjoy Cognac in a cocktail, maybe for Valentine’s Day before your meal?
What is Cognac?
Cognac is a type of brandy that is named after the town of Cognac in western France. It has a long and rich history that dates back to the 16th century when the first distillation of wine took place in the region. The town of Cognac was famous for its wine production and it wasn’t long before people began to distill the wine to create a stronger, more concentrated spirit.
Over the centuries, the production of cognac has evolved and today it is produced using specific techniques that are regulated by French law. To be labeled as cognac, the brandy must be made from specific grape varieties, distilled in copper pot stills, and aged for a minimum of two years in oak barrels. The aging process is crucial to the development of the unique flavor profile of cognac, which is characterized by notes of vanilla, toasted oak, and dried fruit.
Cognac has ageing labels, such as V.S. and V.S.O.P. with more ageing increasing the quality or complexity. Here is a table about ageing and the associated labels compiled from https://www.distilleriedupeyrat.com
Today, cognac is a highly prized spirit that is enjoyed all over the world. The production of cognac is dominated by a few large companies, but there are also small, artisanal producers who create high-quality, handcrafted cognacs. The popularity of cognac continues to grow, and it remains one of the most iconic and recognizable spirits in the world.
In addition to being enjoyed on its own or as an after-dinner drink, cognac is also used in a variety of cocktails. It can be used to add depth and complexity to mixed drinks, and its rich, warming character is a perfect complement to other ingredients such as citrus, bitters, and sweeteners. Some popular cognac-based cocktails include the Sazerac, the Sidecar, and the Vieux Carré. Whether enjoyed straight or in a mixed drink, cognac is a versatile and delicious spirit that has a long and rich history.
I found an article by www.acouplecooks.com that lists 10 cognac-based cocktails. Some are classics while others are less-known. I hope you try some and then let me know in the comments below which ones you liked the most. Cheers.