National Cognac Day

June 6, 2018

As we venture into the world of cognac, it can often feel as though we’ve entered into a world of sophisticated, grown up drinking. I am fine with that, particularly as I entered my 36th year last week. I also welcome the opportunity of thinking about cognac at this time of the year – in summer as opposed to waiting for winter I mean. Cognac is a spirit distilled from grapes after all so its as eligible as any other spirit to be spoken about with fruity cocktails.
Since I spend many of my waking hours thinking and talking about cocktails, it is from this standpoint that we’ll explore cognac land.

Here are some incredible cognac based cocktails that every bartender should have in his or her armoury.

Big Appleberry

This is a cocktail that I embrace towards the end of the summer to help smooth the transition from Summer in to Autumn. It is an incredible drink created by The Soulshakers  and I encountered it working for Match Bars in the mid-noughties. Tall and refreshing it is a great drink to highlight cognac’s versatility and suitability as a base for fruity cocktails.

Ingredients

Blackerries – 2
Raspberries – 3
Red grapes – 3
Redcurrants – a string
Cognac – 50ml
Simple syrup – 10ml
Pressed apple juice – 80ml

Method

Shake & strain and serve in a tall glass with lots of fresh ice.
Garnish with more fresh berries.

Click here to watch a video of our Founder Lefti prepare this delicious cocktail.

 

 

 

 

 

From here, let’s switch up the flow and head towards classic, stirred up drinks. Cognac is equally comfortable here, arguably more so.

 

Japanese cocktail
It’s certainly fashionable nowadays for concoctions to be christened with artistic names and we don’t bat an eyelid as we swig down our Elvis Juice  but this was reportedly the first cocktail on record to bear a name that didn’t reveal or reflect its ingredients. A drink first recorded in Jerry Thomas’ “Bar-Tender’s Guide” amongst a total of just 13 cocktails. That statement is a little misleading though, as there were 236 listed recipes for punches, smashes, sangarees, cobblers, shrubs and so on.  Very, very delicious.

Ingredients

Orgeat (almond syrup) – 10ml
Cognac: 60ml
Angostura Bitters: 2 dashes

Method

Stir in a Boston glass with plenty of fresh, cubed ice.
Strain in to a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a twist of lemon peel

 

Harvard
A classic cocktail first introduced to me by Kevin Armstrong.
I found him drinking one on a rare moment that he was in one of our bars, and not working.  A sight as regular as a unicorn and a gem of a cocktail to capture the occasion. I’ve been drinking them ever since. No more, and certainly no less than a sweet Manhattan made with cognac. A bad ass beverage.

 Ingredients

Sweet vermouth – 20ml
Cognac – 60ml
Angostura Bitters – 2 dashes

Method

Stir in a Boston glass with plenty of fresh, cubed ice.
Strain in to a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a twist of orange peel

 

A little diversion now as we head back in to the land of the fruity and to that, I will add a little dash of playful. This is a drink that I created for a cocktail competition hosted at Chateau Martell in cognac several years back. I won the competition with this drink which I was delighted about and I’d largely forgotten about this drink until today.

 

Yellow Bird No.2

In an attempt to make cognac more approachable and playful for a brief moment I created this drink – inspired by the Bajan Yellow Bird Cocktail.  I loved the idea of cognac and fresh banana and the result was a really tasty drink.
I’ll struggle to remember the recipe with 100% accuracy, but the below is a more than fair representation.

Ingredients

Fresh banana slices – 3 thick coin shaped slices
10ml – Apricot Brandy
5ml – Galliano
10ml – Simple Syrup
15ml – Lemon juice
40ml – Cognac

Method: Muddle fresh banana in to the simple syrup. Shake & strain.
Serve in a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a slice of banana (skin on).

 

SIDECAR
There is a great discussion on this drink in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh. Page 43 for those of you who own a copy.  This wonderful drink owes a nod of acknowledgement back to JT (that’s Jerry Thomas – not John Terry, the Chelsea centre-back). JT introduces us to the Brandy Crusta in his book of 1862. Although this awesome drink lives on, it also gave rise to the Sidecar which in turn lay the foundation for the Margarita. The Sidecar was the most famous output from the Prohibition years and originated from a bartender named McGarry who was working in London at an American-style bar at the time. It was first listed in print in 1922 by Harry McElhone – The ABC of Mixing Cocktails.

Here we go.

Cognac – 40ml
Cointreau – 25ml
Squeezed Lemon Juice – 20ml

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass with a sugared rim Garnish with an orange peel.

Click here to watch a video of our Founder Lefti prepare this tasty cocktail.

 

 

 

 

 

Just lastly, I wanted to preview one of our blends that will be back this winter – Clementine & Clove . This blend is a formidable partner to cognac and later this year, when clems are back in season and we’re making it again, there will certainly be a cocktail or two featuring cognac and probably that other fancy French beverage which also happens to play nicely with cognac – champers.

Talk to you again next week and please subscribe to our newsletter if you’d like to hear more.

 

Lefti

 

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