Ever tried a cocktail made with cognac? If you answered “no”—and even if you said “yes”—stop right there. This French spirit, known as l’eau de vie (the water of life), is the most famous type of brandy and, appropriately, hails from the Cognac region of France.
There’s no spirit as full-flavored when sipped on its own, and a fun exercise is tasting through the various age-related categories, from V.S. to X.O. But if you still need convincing, know that this elixir made from fermented grapes is also among the most complex spirits, lending a distinct flavor to cocktails. See for yourself with these eight classic drinks.
This delightful drink is perhaps today’s most famous cognac cocktail. Classified as a sour, the combination of cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice with a sugared rim results in a perfect balance between sweet and tart. The next time you need a taste of liquid sunshine, or if you’re just starting out in the wide world of cognac cocktails, you can’t go wrong with a Sidecar.
Confused why this brunch staple is on the list? Well, it may often be made with gin these days, but it doesn’t have to be. There are historical instances of the recipe appearing as a mixture of cognac, lemon juice, simple syrup and Champagne. Which is better? Make both versions and decide for yourself.
The two-ingredient French Connection combines cognac and amaretto, and is a sibling to the classic Godfather, which calls for whiskey. The French Connection is one of the best ways to enjoy a young cognac, as the liquor adds warmth and complexity to the balancing effects of sweet, nutty amaretto. The drink, which gets its name from the 1971 Gene Hackman film, is a powerful affair that’s usually sipped after dinner as a digestif or nightcap.
Corpse Reviver No. 1
This old-school cognac drink is a classic choice for relieving your hangover. In fact, the Corpse Reviver family of cocktails was traditionally consumed as a hair-of-the-dog measure meant to refresh someone after a long night of drinking. While the more familiar Corpse Reviver No. 2 calls for gin, lemon, orange liqueur and Lillet Blanc with an absinthe rinse, ol’ No. 1 mixes cognac with sweet vermouth and Calvados. If you have a few, it’s potent enough to start a hangover of its own.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
Tom & Jerry
You don’t have to wait for the holidays to enjoy this lush cocktail. But you will need to prepare the Tom & Jerry batter, which combines eggs, vanilla, rum and sugar. Then, you add a little more rum, a measure of cognac and milk, and you’ve got yourself a feast in a glass—one you can sip year-round.
The Stinger is a simple, two-ingredient recipe that combines cognac with white crème de menthe. It’s believed to have originated in the late-1800s, and for the next few decades it was popular among the high-society crowd as an after-dinner drink. But you don’t need to be high-society or imbibing after dinner to enjoy one. Just mix your ingredients with ice and let that sweet sting wash over you.
Okay, this easy-drinking cocktail doesn’t actually contain any coffee, so your energy won't be boosted from drinking it. You will, however, get high on the rich combination of cognac, port, simple syrup and a whole egg. Put it all together, and you’ll have yourself a silky, delicious drink fortified with protein—helpful if you’ve skipped breakfast.
This cognac-and-rye classic was invented at New Orleans’ famed Carousel Bar inside the Hotel Monteleone in the 1930s, where the drink is still served today. The Vieux Carré is a potent combination of cognac, rye whiskey, Bénédictine, sweet vermouth and bitters. Like so many classic cocktails from the City That Care Forgot, the recipe represents the crosscurrents of America at the time: brandy and herbal liqueur from France, Italian vermouth, American rye whiskey and Caribbean bitters. The cocktail is boozy, sweet, herbal and bitter, a New Orleans-style party in your glass.