Sophisticated choice makes a classy return.
When we think of cognac, cocktails like the Sidecar or producers like Courvoisier, Hennessy and Remy Martin may come to mind. As these last names suggest, cognac originates in France, specifically in the region surrounding the town for which this distinct style of brandy is named.
In order for a liquor to be considered cognac, certain qualifications must be met: specific types of grapes must be used, it must be distilled twice in copper stills, and must age for a minimum of two years in French oak barrels.
Cognac has been around for centuries, but its popularity seems to be making a comeback.
Traditionally, sophisticated cognac has been more requested among “those of a certain age”—but that may be changing as well.
I talked with Laura Kelton, manager at Easy Bistro & Bar, who has noticed a pattern among customers.
“More often than not if someone is sipping on cognac neat, it is not anyone in the younger crowd. However, as the renaissance of classic cocktails reaches us in Chattanooga, it is a younger dynamic ordering cognac-based classics and specialty drinks,” says Kelton.
Easy Bistro offers several exclusive cognac-based specialty drinks. In addition to making traditional cocktails that use cognac, like the Vieux Carre, Sidecar, and a cognac-based version of the French 75, Easy Bistro makes two special cocktails: the “Saison,” and the “Antebellum Julep.”
Made with cognac, apricot liqueur, peach bitters, Angostura, and sparkling wine, the Saison is described by Kelton as “a really fun cocktail, because while most sparkling cocktails are light and refreshing, this one is rich and robust.”
The mint julep is a bourbon-based drink today, but it was originally a brandy-based beverage. Easy Bistro’s “Antebellum Julep” pays homage to the original julep by using cognac as the base, but makes the cocktail unique to Easy Bistro by adding Branca Menta, crushed ice and mint.
“It was really fun to dig into the roots of the drink and give it our own spin,” says Kelton.
Easy Bistro offers two cognacs on their drinks menu: a Petite Champagne Cognac from Maison Surrene, and their Tonneau No. 1. They also offer brandy: the Germain Robin XO and VSOP.
“I don’t think it [cognac] will hit its peak for the next few years, but as we get more products imported to us here and bartender education is on the rise, I think it will continue to gain momentum,” says Kelton.
The timeless appeal of classic cognac is once again ready for its close-up.