No longer is cognac only enjoyed in a snifter by the fire. Although this is still appealing, the way people are sipping this smooth brown liquor has certainly changed.
Originally used as a mixer in cocktails, cognac, a variety of brandy named after the town in France, has a very deep history that dates all the way back to 1765. The Hennessy cognac distillery was founded by Richard Hennessy, an Irish officer serving in the army of Louis XV.
Over the decades, the brand has evolved and has become more approachable and less of a sacred indulgence, with sales on the rise.
“Cognac can be an any day drink,” says Hennessy brand ambassador Fabien Levieux. “Don’t look at it like the fancy silverware you only use one or twice a year.”
There’s a lot of craftsmanship that goes into Hennessy cognac.
“The careful selection of eau de vies, a clear colourless fruit brandy, by the Tasting Committee is followed by a well monitored maturation process,” explains says Devon Seagrave with Charton-Hobbs Inc., a wine and spirit agency whose portfolio represents a number of worldwide brands. “This ensures the precise eau de vies are blended for each type of cognac and they are always consistent wherever you are worldwide.”
Younger generations are starting to appreciate the history and taste of cognac. Chris Krock with Edmonton's Ampersand27 says mixologists are certainly helping with this resurgence.
“We are all going back to classic spirits and reinventing our views on them. We are seeing a rapid regrowth of grape-based spirits such as cognac and vermouth. Being able to use a shrub or syrup or other ingredients has really opened up the depth of it,” adds Chris.
Whether you love to have a satisfying sipping experience through classic or modern cocktails, Hennessy and ginger ale or simply neat, there’s no right or wrong and it all comes down to personal preference.
The Sidecar cocktail
The Sidecar is a classic cocktail, first published in 1922, made with cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice. It's a simple drink that brings out the warmth of the cognac while lightening it up. Get the recipe here.