Sure, you may be used to buying an expensive Cognac just for sipping neat, with maybe a solitary ice cube. That’s fine yet the liqueur is also a crucial ingredient in a range of cocktails.
Many of these cocktails have a French background which you may expect. From The Vieux Carré to the French 75 and the French Connection, grab that bottle of Cognac and use it to create some delicious concoctions.
In this guide, we will detail 17 simple Cognac cocktails and present a bonus section for the variants on some classics.
What Is Considered As Cognac
Proper Cognac can only originate from one region of the world, tucked away towards the west of France.
The liqueur is a sweet French brandy made from a specific wine grape and only produced in the Charente and Charente-Maritime regions of France which contains the town of Cognac.
That well-honed flavor comes by distilling the grapes twice in pot stills or via unique alembics and then aging them in Limousin oak barrels. The total production process has to be limited to those two regions or else it cannot truly be called Cognac.
1. The Stinger
If you want a quick cocktail to get the evening started then try The Stinger in a shot glass.
Mix equal parts Cognac with white crème de menthe and pour it into a shot glass. You can shake it with some ice if you prefer it cold. Down it in one and off you go.
With such a name, you can expect The Vieux Carré to be French-inspired and it is directly named after the French Quarter. In a mixing glass, combine equal parts Cognac, rye whiskey, and sweet red vermouth.
Throw in a teaspoon of Bénédictine and a dash each of Peychaud’s Bitters and Angostura Bitters. Fill the glass halfway with ice and stir for half a minute then strain into an ice-filled rocks glass with a cherry garnish.
This is essentially a French version of mulled wine that makes worthy use of Cognac. Ensure that the wine does not boil as the alcohol will simply evaporate.
Pour a bottle of dry red wine into a saucepan then add two cinnamon sticks, three cloves, a star anise, ten peppercorns, and half a cup of sugar.
Add two strips of orange zest, bring it to a simmer then turn to low and cook for ten minutes before straining and adding a couple of tablespoons of Cognac.
The Cavendish may sound simple yet it is deceptively delicious. Fill a rocks glass with ice and add an ounce each of Rhum Agricole Ambre and Cognac, with a quarter ounce of banana liqueur and pimento liqueur.
Throw in a couple of dashes of Angostura Bitters with one wide strip of orange peel and stir until chilled.
5. Café Amore
As a boozy coffee, you will want to begin by creating six ounces of black coffee just how you like it. Combine an ounce each of Cognac and amaretto liqueur in a coffee glass then pour in your hot coffee.
Garnish with some shaved almonds and top with some whipped cream.
You only need two ingredients for this moreish cocktail so there really are no excuses not to try one. Fill a lowball glass with ice and then pour in one part amaretto with two parts Cognac and stir to combine. That’s it.
For a refreshing variant on an iced tea, muddle three hulled strawberries in a cocktail shaker. Add ice to the juice of half a lemon, a tablespoon or warmed honey, three ounces of cooled black tea, and two ounces of Cognac.
When cool, strain into a glass and garnish with a slice of lemon though you may want to use more honey or tea, depending on how you like it.
8. Mata Hari
The Mata Hari is a herbal, tart yet floral cocktail and is well worth sampling.
You will need an ounce of chai-infused sweet vermouth, one and a quarter ounce of Cognac, and three-quarters of an ounce each of freshly squeezed lemon juice and pomegranate juice to mix in a shaker with ice.
Once well chilled, strain into a cocktail glass and then garnish with three dried rosebuds.
Many cocktails feature rye whiskey and Cognac together and that includes the Sazerac. Add ice to a glass then throw in a quarter-ounce of absinthe and stir until the glass is chilled then discard the absinthe.
Use a mixing glass to combine a sugar cube, three-quarters of an ounce of water with two dashes each of Angostura Bitters and Peychaud’s Bitters.
Add in an ounce each of rye whiskey and Cognac with ice and stir until chilled.
Named after the colonel, Jimmie Roosevelt, this cocktail was created in the 1930s and has still stood the test of time.
Sprinkle four or five dashes of Angostura Bitters onto a sugar cube then drop it into a wine glass with cracked ice. Pour in two ounces of Cognac with three ounces of Champagne.
Float on half an ounce of Green Chartreuse using an investor spoon and serve without a garnish.
11. The Beautiful
You only need two ingredients for The Beautiful and you may not even need any ice. Simply layer together equal parts Cognac and Grand Marnier in a brandy snifter.
12. Milk Punch
For a sipping Cognac drink, look no further than this Milk Punch.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice then add one and a quarter ounce each of Cognac, Jamaican rum, whole milk, and three-quarters of an ounce of simple syrup.
Shake until cold to the touch and then strain into a chilled rocks glass with a single ice cube. Serve with some grated nutmeg and enjoy.
13. Almond Crusta
The Crusta cocktail was created in the 1950s in New Orleans and the name derives from the sugar crusted rim. Create your own by wetting the rim of your glass with lemon juice then dipping it in superfine sugar.
Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice and then add an ounce of Cognac, half an ounce of gin, three quarters of an ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and half an ounce of orgeat syrup.
Shake and then strain into your cocktail glass with a lemon peel garnish.
Imagine The Morning Glory as a glorified version of an Old Fashioned.
To make one, stir together an ounce each of rye whiskey and Cognac with a bar spoon each of Grand Marnier, simple syrup, and absinthe then throw in two dashes of Angostura Bitters.
Once well chilled, strain into a rocks glass and top with club soda and garnish with a lemon twist.
15. The Japanese
Dating back to 1862 and appearing in the bartending guide, ‘How To Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion’, The Japanese is named after the very first Japanese representatives who visited the United Nations.
To make your own, half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add two ounces of Cognac to half an ounce each of orgeat syrup and freshly squeezed lime juice, and a dash of Angostura Bitters.
Shake and then strain into a chilled glass and serve with a lime twist.
16. Apricot Sunray
Like the Vin Chaud, you can make a large batch of Apricot Sunray and share it with others.
Grab a pitcher, add some ice and then add half a bottle of Cognac, a bottle of sparkling wine, and three cups of apricot liqueur for your booze.
You will also need one and a half cups each of apricot nectar and freshly squeezed lemon juice, four cups of freshly squeezed blood orange, six thinly sliced apricots, five thinly sliced lemons, a thinly sliced blood orange, and 12 brandied cherries.
Give it a good stir and then pour it out.
17. French 75
One of the most elegant cocktails you can order is a French 75 yet it certainly packs a punch. Strip three lemons of their zest then squeeze them to create a cup of juice.
Pour that juice into a cocktail shaker with ice and half a cup each of Cognac and simple syrup. Shake until well chilled, distribute between around six flutes then top with Champagne and garnish with the strips of lemon zest.
Bonus: The Variants
There is little doubt that Cognac should be considered as a classic ingredient in cocktail making. However, it can also be used to revamp some well-known cocktails to make some interesting variants.
From the Old Fashioned to the Margarita and the Manhattan.
Another variation of an Old Fashioned comes from Wisconsin and can be made either sour or sweet. Muddle together a maraschino cherry with a teaspoon of the juice, an orange slice, a sugar cube, and four to six dashes of Angostura Bitters.
Add one and a half ounces of Cognac and fill the glass with ice. Add either grapefruit soda or seltzer water to top it off depending on whether you want it sour or sweet.
Yes, you can make a Margarita with Cognac and you will need a lime-salt rim.
Fill your cocktail shaker with ice, add two ounces of Cognac, one and a half ounces each of tequila, and Triple Sec, with three ounces of Sweet & Sour mix. Shake well and then strain into a cocktail glass with a lime wedge garnish.
This is a rather French take on a traditional Manhattan as the whiskey is replaced by… you guessed it, Cognac. Place a maraschino cherry into a chilled cocktail glass for preparation.
Meanwhile, add ice to a cocktail shaker and throw in two ounces of Cognac, an ounce of sweet red vermouth, and two dashes of Angostura Bitters. Strain into your cocktail glass and serve.
With a bottle of Cognac, you really can open up your options for creating cocktails. From the classics such as The Cosmopolitan and The Manhattan to more contemporary offerings.
If you want a simple cocktail then try The Beautiful or the French Connection as each only includes two ingredients.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Drink Cognac Neat?
For some, the ideal way to drink Cognac is not in a cocktail but neat. You can use a taster’s glass with a long, narrow shape which helps to contain the richness of the liqueur.
A drop of water works well but if you want to use ice, serve it in a large tumbler.
How Long Does It Take For Cognac To Deteriorate?
Once you open a bottle of Cognac and oxidation begins, the liqueur can deteriorate as it evaporates. Keep the bottle closed as an open one will only last for six months before that deterioration becomes telling.