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The Best Ways To Drink Cognac… When You Know Nothing About Cognac

It’s a French thing re-imagined for today.

Besides knowing that it hails from France and features a flavour profile that’s smoother than an oiled-up Tom Jones (don’t picture that), the occasional bar goer won’t know much else about this premium variety of brandy people like to call Cognac.

So what makes a Cognac a Cognac? Well there’s actually legal production requirements that Cognac makers need to follow before they can call their brandy Cognac.

The Cognac Process

  • It must be produced in the wine-growing regions of Cognac and in the departments of Charente and Charente-Maritime
  • Brandy must be twice distilled in copper pot stills
  • Aged at least two years in French oak barrels from Limousin or Tronçais
  • Most Cognacs spend considerably longer “on the wood” than the minimum legal requirement

Who Can Drink Cognac?

Today’s Cognac has well and truly grown beyond the tastes of ‘that-dapper-old-guy-in-a-corner-with-a-cigar-and-three-piece-suit’.

According to Romaric Behaghel who is the ambassador for Martell, Cognac used to be a must-have in the back bars, nightclubs and collector cabinets, but these days patrons can use them to make all sorts of cocktails to suit any occasion whether it be a Summer drink by the pool or a night out on the town. Most importantly, they taste insanely good.

“One has to keep in mind that Martell is a high qualitative Cognac – one of the oldest of the great houses of Cognac so it can definitely be appreciated neat if you consider bottles like Martell Cordon Bleu and Martell XO.”

Now that you have a quick crash course in what Cognac is, here are some of the freshest and most creative ways to turn them into a cocktail to suit your taste and occasion.

Curious Punch

  • 50 ml Martell VSOP Red Barrel
  • 20 ml lime juice
  • 10 ml sugar syrup
  • 20 ml mineral water
  • lemon peel

Pour Martell VSOP in a punch cup or highball glass over crushed ice, add lemon juice and sugar syrup, and complete with a premium mineral water. Stir well until the glass gets frosted. Garnish with a lemon peel twisted over the drink.

Curious Julep

  • 50 ml Martell VSOP Red Barrel
  • 10-12 fresh mint leaves
  • 10 ml sugar syrup
  • berries, mint bouquet

Press the mint leaves in a julep cup with a flat end barspoon or a muddler. Add Martell VSOP and sugar syrup. Fill with crushed ice. Stir well until the cup is well frosted. Garnish with berries and a mint bouquet.

Curious Sidecar

  • 45 ml Martell VSOP Red Barrel
  • 20 ml triple sec
  • 15 ml lemon juice
  • orange peel

Pour all ingredients into the cocktail shaker. Shake well until the metal gets frosted. Strain into a coupe glass. Twist an orange peel over the drink and discard.

Curious Crusta

  • 45 ml Martell VSOP
  • 20 ml lemon juice
  • 15 ml orange curaçao
  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • sugar rim, long lemon peel

Moisten the rim of the glass with lemon and dip it into fine powdered sugar. Pour all ingredients into the cocktail shaker. Shake well until the metal is frosted. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a long lemon peel into the glass.

Voyage des Amants

  • 50 ml Martell VSOP Red Barrel
  • 50 ml cold tea (Rooibos preferred)
  • 50 ml Ginger Ale
  • Orange peel twist

Fill the highball glass with ice and pour in all ingredients. Stir well until well chilled and garnish with the orange peel twist.

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