Only a short time ago, the notion of Scotch cocktails seemed a bit absurd to many drinkers—isn't Scotch supposed to be served neat? But as bartenders became acquainted with more affordable blended Scotches marketed for mixing, Scotch cocktails started popping up at bars across the country. Cognac is, in many ways, a similar case: a generally pricey spirit whose higher-end bottles are indeed best enjoyed straight, but whose more affordable brethren can shine when mixed. As we're seeing mixology-focused cognacs hit the market, perhaps the cognac cocktail is on the verge of a comeback.
'cognac' on Serious Eats
This equal-parts drink, made with cognac, Old Tom gin, and sweet vermouth, is luscious and smooth, with a little candied-orange sweetness and a touch of vanilla.
The cocktail program at Trou Normand focuses on Calvados, Armagnac, and Cognac. But that narrow focus doesn't feel like a gimmick here, and their spin on the Old Fashioned is worth braving the crowds.
There's something about punch that transports us back to the days of Dickens, and this warm milk punch dates back even further. It's a delicious, lighter-tasting alternative to a classic eggnog that doesn't taste as boozy as a hot toddy.
A tasty fall cocktail with a cognac base, made with Fernet Branca, maple syrup, and tart apple cider vinegar, plus a sprinkle of cinnamon.
This cocktail from Mark Brinker and Jessica Tessendorf of Chicago's Barrelhouse Flat is a tasty fall drink with a cognac base. Fernet Branca, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar all contribute to the subtle complexity of the flavor, while cinnamon adds an autumnal aroma.
The Grasshopper cocktail is a sweet green-colored after dinner drink. The original concoction called for green crème de menthe, crème de cacao, and cream or half and half. This green monster practically screams out for a remake.
The Grasshopper is the original green monster drink, but this sweet and creamy dessert cocktail is reawakened with fresh mint.
Cognac. To many, it's the ultimate in brandy. Now, you may ask why? Does it taste better? is it the expense? The time to make it? The grapes? The history? I'd say it's all of those things, and more. But what is cognac? How's it made, and what makes it special?
When I mention brandy, you probably have an image already in your head. An older gentleman, sitting quietly in a leather armchair, perhaps smoking a pipe while listening to Brahms, swirling a snifter of brandy around in his hand. We think of brandy as an Old World after-dinner drink. And I have to say, it serves that purpose beautifully. But if you limit it to that, you're missing out on a lot.
The Fish House Punch was first concocted at a gentlemen's fishing club in Philadelphia. The original recipe called for peach brandy. In this modern version, Brian Dressel of Midnight Cowboy in Austin, Texas replaces peach brandy with a mix of peach liqueur and cognac, and tames the rum-forward punch with green tea, maraschino liqueur, and citrus.
Jamie Boudreau of Canon in Seattle tells us that many prominent figures in American history, such as George Washington, have also enjoyed this rum-forward punch.
A fruit-filled punch that dates back to 1862.
This drink from Jim Romdall at Seattle's Vessel shows what a few more refined spirits will do to a punch. VSOP Cognac and aged sherry are lightened by the apricot and lemon.
The original Mudslide was allegedly invented during the 1950s at the Wreck Bar in the Cayman Islands. In its heyday the frozen drink was often made with a mix that came in a plastic bottle. Classy, right? It's time to elevate the Mudslide to the level of respectability and craftsmanship that it deserves.
A celebration of the original adult milkshake with a cognac and rum foundation.
This cocktail from Eastern Standard in Boston uses toasty cognac and rooibos tea to warm up the flavor of peaches.
This variation on the Tom Collins is super-simple to make. It appeared in the 1946 Stork Club Bar Book by Lucius Beebe—we got this version of the recipe from Theo Lieberman of Lantern's Keep in NYC.
This cocktail from Todd Maul of Clio in Boston is refreshing and complex, and would also be delicious served over ice.
This winter sour from Jackson Cannon balances a boozy cognac edge with smooth maple syrup and Meyer lemon. Though there's as much maple as lemon, it's not at all sweet, just warming and aromatic.