You’ve heard of Negroni Week, but now it’s cognac’s turn. We’re in the middle of Cognac Classic Week (it runs until July 21st), and it’s everything your palate has been dreaming of.
Hennessy and Liquor.com teamed up to show off just how much cognac brings to the table in cocktails. Cognac isn’t the go-to base spirit many people right now. But many of the whiskey cocktails we today began as cognac cocktails. Whether it’s the pre-rye Sazerac or the oft forgotten Corpse Reviver No. 1, cognac used to be the cock of the walk.
Cognac Classic Week is all part of Hennessy’s first marketing campaign for V.S.O.P Privilège in over a decade. You’d think a spirit origially created for King George wouldn’t need marketing, but it’s been a minute since that request in 1817.
The tagline is “Harmony. Mastered from Chaos,” which sounds pretty badass. If chaos was good enough for the Joker, it’s good enough for me. They explained that the tasting panel putting together Privilège had to master “a multitude of complex variables in order to create the harmony & balance.” I know that’s know easy task having spoken with plenty of blenders in the past. I’ll give there chaos wranglers credit, too. The spirit is perfectly balanced.
Cognac Classic cocktails: not your grandfather’s bartender
Hennessy let me tag along on a Cognac Classic bar crawl last week, and the drinks were stellar. We visited 4 of the 21 bars participating this year, but you can see them all here. The bartenders put their own spin on the classics, and many are cocktails you definitely can’t make at home. All the more reason to go out!
James Urycki’s Sidecar #2 at Travelle looked as beautiful as it seemed simple. One of those observations couldn’t have been further from the truth though. I was with him for the Hennessy VSOP and the lemon juice. I can handle that. Then, instead of the Cointreau he used curaçao. OK, I can handle that too, right? Wrong. It was housemade tobacco curaçao. And on of the ingredients in the housemade liqueur was a housemade coffee tincture. I’m not even sure what tincture means.
The idea that I could make this cocktail myself is as reasonable as assuming I can make a table out of a tree because I’ve successfully assembled an IKEA table. This is exactly why I’ve been going out for Cognac Classic Week instead of playing America’s Top Mixologist. I’ll put the full recipe below should you want to give it a whirl though.
Whitney Morrow’s Cherry Coach Car at Drumbar was another standout. It was another a riff on a Side Car, but built for summer with Leopoldo Bros cherry liqueur, and five spice bitters. We took the cocktail as a shot as well, making it the ultimate utility drink.
Morrow was even
foolish kind enough to let me step behind the bar and make my own. I’m not sure why I’m holding the bottle like an idiot, but the drink turned out pretty well. Admittedly she walked me through it jigger by jigger, but I’ll give myself credit when due.
The bottom line is, you should be out drinking these amazing cognac cocktails the next four days. After that, take a run at making a few yourself! You might not want to start with the James Urycki’s Sidecar #2 though.
James Urycki’s Sidecar #2, Cognac Classic Week
- 1.5 oz Hennessy VSOP cognac
- .75 oz Lemon juice
- .75 oz Tobacco curaçao*
- Superfine sugar
Rim a chilled coupe with sugar. Add the remaining ingredients to a shaker, and fill with ice. Shake and strain into the prepared glass. Flame an orange disc over the surface of the drink, then drop into the glass.
*Tobacco curaçao: Add 8 ounces of tobacco syrup**, 4 ounces of dry curaçao, 128 drops (from the eye dropper) of Dark Matter Unicorn Blood espresso tincture***, and 80 drops (from the eye dropper) of tobacco-orange tincture**** in a container and combine thoroughly. Keep refrigerated.
**Tobacco syrup: Bring 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and add 10 grams of pipe tobacco and 1 vanilla bean. Let steep for 5 minutes (but no longer, or the tobacco will be too strong and cause a tingle in the back of the throat), then strain. Let cool. The syrup will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
***Dark Matter Unicorn Blood espresso tincture: Add 1/2 cup ground Unicorn Blood espresso beans and 2 cups of overproof neutral grain spirit to an airtight container and cover. Shake and let sit for 1 week, shaking daily. Strain through a coffee-filter-lined fine-mesh sieve. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.
****Tobacco-orange tincture: Add 28 grams of pipe tobacco, the peels of 4 whole oranges and 2 cups of overproof neutral grain spirit to an airtight container and cover. Shake and let sit for 1 week, shaking daily. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.