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Cocktail Hour: Cognac Servings

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 17, 2016

If you delve into the history of Cognac, you will find that the spirit was drank in a very different manner in the 18th and 19th centuries. In fact, if you happen to enter an old bar in France you might still see blue glass bottles with handles which used to be filled with seltzer water to be used with Cognac. The grape spirit may have remained a mixing spirit had not phylloxera arrived and ravaged the European vineyards.

Because of phylloxera, Cognac all but disappeared in the 1870’s, and it remained a relatively rare spirit until the end of the 19th century. During this time, it was gradually replaced in bars and restaurants by whisk(e)y in both the United Kingdom and North America. When the vineyards recovered and Cognac became more readily available near the beginning of the 20thcentury, it had to find a new market niche to occupy. For this reason, the grape spirit came to be promoted as an after dinner sipping drink rather than as a spirit meant mixed drinks and cocktails.

Brandy Crusta (1878) SAM_1069_1

Brandy Crusta

However, if we go back to the roots of Cognac and how people originally preferred to enjoy the spirit, we find that as a cocktail spirit it has tremendous appeal. Cognac displays intense taste and aromas, great complexity, and a wonderful finish. The original bartenders knew this, and with cognac they created many classic bar drinks for their patrons. In fact, some of our favourite whisky cocktails, the Mint Julep, the Old Fashioned and the Sazerac were originally mixed with Brandy and Cognac.

The recipes I have selected below (click on the mixed drink servings to go to each recipe page) may seem heretical to today’s Cognac enthusiast; but they are all rooted in the true history of the grape spirit which was the original spirit of choice for bartenders who created mixed drinks and cocktails.

Please enjoy these cocktail servings and if you are interested in other libations, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


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