Cognac may be best known as a brandy and aged spirit that is wonderful for sipping. Plus, with its warm and comforting earthy flavors, it’s also often associated with enjoying it alongside crackling fires in the Winter. But come Summer time there are even more ways to enjoy this brandy on cognac tasting tours particular to the cognac country of France, located just a few hours from Bordeaux.
One of the more well known cognac cocktails is an old fashioned, which is made by muddling sugar along with bitters, and then pouring in the brandy, and topping the drink off with a citrus rind. A sidecar too is another cocktail, and it includes cognac along with orange liqueur and lemon juice. From there you can get an idea of the kinds of flavors that work well when mixed with cognac: sugar and fruit!
But cognac is, by and large, a flexible liquor. It’s more and more often found behind the bar, as it can be used as a substitute for other alcohols — like gin and fruity dark rums — in other Summer time drinks. Other things it works well with includes grapefruit, lemon juice, or if you’re getting really creative, maple syrup! It also stands up quite well with other liquors like campari and rum.
Before you start mixing though, consider what kind of cognac you’re going to be using. The designation matters as you want the added flavors to complement the cognac, not mask it. VS, or Very Superior, isn’t recommended for cocktails, because it’s one of the youngest kinds of cognac you’ll find on the market (aged for just two years). VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) cognacs are better suited for mixing, because of how they’re blended: old cognacs with newer ones. While some people don’t recommend mixing XOs, and not just because of their price tag, it depends on what you’re doing to the cognac. Only adding a touch of sugar and water, along with mint leaves? Then maybe, just maybe, using an XO would be considered acceptable by some.
But by and large, opt for a VSOP when crafting your cognac cocktail. My personal favorite? The Summit, made as it is with lime zest and ginger, another wonderful accompaniment to cognac’s flavors, that is gently muddled. Add in the ice and VSOP cognac, and top with lemonade and cucumber peel, and you have the makings of a perfect summer cocktail!
Want to learn more about the history and flavors of cognac on our cognac tasting tours? Join us on our Discover Cognac Country: From Vine to Glass tour.
By Liz Hall
Discover another unique summer cocktail with this recipe for a Gin and Tonic Sorbet.
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