Before last week, I may have thought convincing a non-Cognac drinker to choose a Cognac-based cocktail for happy hour to be a difficult task. Au contraire, mon frère! A recent visit to Courvoisier poured up a perfect fall drink that leaves even skeptics thirsty for more. This week's happy hour has a rich French flair you can enjoy right at home.
Being a cocktail writer has some advantages including my recent trek to France's fabulous Cognac region. You see, I was finishing up my the brandy chapter in my upcoming cocktail book and needed to really get a handle on Cognac. Like many of you, I had written off this spirit as something only old-timers, rappers or the extremely wealthy sip. I quickly found out that in Cognac there's something for everyone.
After a week of sipping and gently swirling, as we were sternly told to do so as not to break the molecules (Don't ask — even us drink nerds rolled our eyes at that), I got to know not only the spirit but its endless possibilities in the shaker. Believe it or not, the very first drink I was offered in Cognac was a cocktail! I was mentally prepared for sensory exhaustion with a week of this heavy, high alcohol drink, but over and over, I was continually surprised how Cognac proved to be not only versatile but also vibrant and delicious.
If you're new to Cognac, don't start with the premium (a.k.a. more expensive) pours, like the XO category. The cocktails made with the lower alcohol, more approachable Cognacs, some labelled VS and VSOP, are a perfect place to begin, and they can be amazing in cocktails. Pre-dinner drinks at Courvoisier with a house specialty called the Lady C proves it.
This cocktail is made with two of the more modern brands, C by Courvoisier and the Rosé, both of which can be found for under $30 a bottle. It's topped with some bubbles and a hint of cinnamon, making it a cocktail perfect for fall. Buy a baguette and a few French cheeses, and mix up this sip for a simple but magnifique happy hour in minutes.
Lady C Cognac Cocktail
Recipe courtesy of Courvoisier
2 ounces C by Courvoisier
1 ounce Courvoisier Rosé
3/4 ounce fresh squeezed orange juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce Champagne
Cinnamon, for garnish
Orange zest, for garnish
Shake first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into two Martini glasses and top with Champagne. Sprinkle very lightly with cinnamon. Garnish with orange zest.
Information for this post was gathered during a press trip sponsored by The Distilled Spirits Council of United States. All views and opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author.
(Images: Maureen Petrosky)