If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times.

Cognac is brandy, but brandy is most definitely not Cognac. The capital letter “C” should give you a clue as to why. Cognac is a proprietary style of brandy made only in the Cognac region of France. Both are made from grapes, but Cognac has the distinction of terroir, just like Champagne. And, while you might not think about it for mixing in the same light as whiskey, it offers up stunning possibilities.

In recent years, Coganc has jumped on the high-proof bandwagon just like whiskey did – and with great success. High proof spirits have a natural affinity for cocktails since the higher ABV offers better flavor delivery. One of the proponents of this movement is Louis Royer Cognac, whose “Force 53” comes in at a whopping 53% ABV, or 106 proof (US). Bartenders have taken note, incorporating everything from sherry to orgeat to amaro into Cognac’s elegant flavor profile, which offers everything from vanilla to orange fruit to chocolate.

Cognac begins as wine that is then distilled and aged in wood barrels. Ugni Blanc is the main grape; it produces fruit that is low in alcohol and high in acid. The appellation of Cognac has six “crus,” the most elegant being those from Grande Champagne, which is floral and requires long aging, and Petite Champagne, which is similar to the latter but possessing a bit less grace.

While you may not see Cognac as a summer sipper, the spirit can work year round, depending on the setting, the flavor balance, and the delivery. Tweak it tiki-style, offer it as a flip, or simple like an Old Fashioned on a cool summer evening. After all, elegance has no season; it’s always in style.

Frenchman Street Cocktail

Frenchman Street Cocktail

Photo Courtesy of Paul Wagtouicz

The Frenchmen Street Cocktail

Courtesy of Timothy Miner, The Long Island Bar, NYC

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Louis Royer “Force 53” VSOP Cognac
  • 1/2 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
  • 1 barspoon White Crème de Cacao
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir to chill and dilute. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


Orientation

Orientation

Photo Courtesy of Paul Wagtouicz

Orientation

Courtesy of Gregory Buda, The Dead Rabbit, NYC

  • 1 3/4 oz. Louis Royer “Force 53” VSOP Cognac
  • 1/2 oz. Barbadillo Amontillado Sherry
  • 3/4 oz. Orgeat Syrup
  • 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Preparation: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice and double strain into a punch glass. Garnish with a dusting of nutmeg.


Sazerac

Sazerac

Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Sazerac

Courtesy of Mike Shain, General Manager, Porchlight, NYC

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Louis Royer “Force 53” VSOP Cognac
  • 1/4 oz. (Scant) Simple Syrup
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • Herbsaint, for Glass Rinse

Preparation: Rinse the inside of a chilled, single rocks glass with Herbsaint. Build ingredients into a mixing glass and stir over ice. Strain cocktail carefully into the glass rinsed with Herbsaint. Express the lemon twist over the cocktail and discard.


Simmer Down

Simmer Down

Photo Courtesy of Paul Wagtouicz

Simmer Down

Courtesy of Jason Cousins, Da Claudio, NYC

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Louis Royer “Force 53” VSOP Cognac
  • 1 oz. Antica Distilleria Russo Nocino
  • 1/2 oz. Caffè Borghetti Espresso Liqueur
  • 2 dashes Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters
  • 1 piece Flamed Orange Disc, for Garnish

Preparation: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with fresh ice and stir until chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a flamed orange disc.


Summertime Remedy

Summertime Remedy

Photo Courtesy of Paul Wagtouicz

Summertime Remedy

Courtesy of Brett Esler, Whisker’s, Austin, TX

  • 1 1/2 oz. Louis Royer “Force 53” VSOP Cognac
  • 1 oz. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
  • 3/4 oz. Lustau East India Solera Sherry
  • 1 Whole Organic Egg
  • Red Rose Petal, for Garnish

Preparation: Add all ingredients into a mixing glass. Give a 20-second hard dry shake, add ice, and shake for another 8-10 seconds. Fine strain the cocktail with a mesh strainer into a cordial glass and add 1 red rose petal as a garnish.