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9 Most Popular Cognac Cocktails

Cognac is undoubtedly one of the finer things in life. This luxe French Brandy is without equal in the world of spirits. You can take it neat or add a touch of extra class to your cocktail enjoyment by incorporating Cognac in your tipple. Fortunately, there are plenty of brilliant classic recipes that feature this divine spirit. Whether you’re a longtime Cognac aficionado or simply looking for an easy introduction to one of the liquor world’s best-loved spirits, here are some classic cocktails you absolutely must try.

#1 Champagne Cocktail

An aperitif cocktail par excellence, the Champagne Cocktail is easy to make and even easier to drink. It’s an old recipe that dates back to the early days of the mixed drink—the 19th century. You can keep your Mimosas, Bellinis, and Kir Royals. The Champagne Cocktail is the one to rule them all.

1 sugar cube

1 oz Cognac

Champagne (or substitute a less expensive option and get the same results)

2–3 dashes of Angostura bitters

Place the sugar cube at the bottom of a chilled Champagne flute. Add bitters, then Cognac. Slowly pour the Champagne until the glass is filled. Garnish with a lemon twist.

#2 Sidecar

Sidecar

More than a few of the cocktails that make this list have somewhat cloudy origins and the Sidecar is one of them. A popular origin story places the Sidecar in World War I–era Paris with an American army captain ordering it up. There are other tales of this cocktail winnowing about which state the Sidecar was born in, London or New Orleans. Whatever its genesis was, we can all agree to raise a glass in thanks to the man who created it.

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to how to prepare a proper Sidecar. The Sidecar à la Française stipulates equal parts Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice. Across the Channel, the English version reads two parts Cognac with equal parts of lemon juice and Cointreau. This version is the one you’ll come across in most watering holes across the world.

2 oz Cognac

¾ oz Cointreau

¾ oz lemon juice

#3 Sazerac

Perhaps the oldest American cocktail invention, the Sazerac was first concocted around the 1830s in

New Orleans. Today it remains firmly tied with its hometown, a symbol of the Big Easy. It’s no wonder that Cognac makes its way into this libation; after all, New Orleans has a strong French influence. And it was a Frenchman living in New Orleans, Antoine Amedie Peychaud, who invented his eponymous bitters that are a must for this noble drink. Today, you’ll see versions of the Sazerac based on rye, a substitution born in the 1870s when the phylloxera epidemic hit France and resulted in a Cognac shortage. The original and correct method uses Cognac.

Absinthe

1 sugar cube

1 dash Angostura bitters

2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

2 oz Cognac

Lemon peel

Rinse a rocks glass with Absinthe, making sure to coat the entire glass. Discard the remaining absinthe and set the glass to the side.

In a second glass, dash the sugar cube with bitters, then muddle. Add the Cognac and stir, then strain into the absinthe-coated glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

#4 Vieux Carre

Named for New Orleans’ French Quarter, Vieux Carre means “Old Square” in the lingua français. It was first conceived at the infamous Carousel Bar in the 1930s. This particular gem owes its complexity to a slew of ingredients. Cognac dances with bourbon, Benedictine, and Vermouth with dashes of not one, but two types of bitters. Yet for all its complexity, you won’t get tripped up when mixing yourself a Vieux Carre. Simply mix in a glass, stir, and top off with a few ice cubes.

1 oz Bourbon

1 oz Cognac

1 Vermouth

1 bar spoon Benedictine

2 dashes Angostura bitters

2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Add ingredients to a glass, stir, and top with ice.

#5 Corpse Reviver #1

As its name suggests, the Corpse Reviver cocktail is a cure to help combat even the worst hangovers, if you believe in the hair-of-the-dog school of thought. Whether you subscribe to it or not, we can assure you that this is a tasty beverage. Once upon a time, there were several different incarnations of the Corpse Reviver. Today, only a few survive and it’s version number one that makes use of Cognac

1 oz Cognac

1 oz Calvados

½ oz sweet Vermouth

Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain and serve into a martini glass.

#6 Between the Sheets

This provocatively named Cognac cocktail is often attributed to master barman Harry MacElhone of Harrys New York Bar in Paris. He is the genius behind the Bloody Mary, Boulevardier, and possibly the Sidecar. Speaking of the Sidecar, Between the Sheets is a sibling to that more well-known drink, building upon it by adding white Rum to the list of ingredients.

1 oz white Rum

1 oz Cognac

1 oz Cointreau

½ oz lemon juice

Shake with ice and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

#7 Brandy Alexander

Once an exceptionally popular cocktail, the Brandy Alexander had its heyday during the Pre-Prohibition 1900s. It was the brainchild of Troy Alexander, a New York bartender who clearly knew his stuff. It’s the Rolls-Royce of post-dinner drinking with its luscious texture and a kiss of chocolate. Decadent and delicious, skip dessert and have a few Brandy Alexanders instead.

2 oz Cognac

1 oz Crème de Cacao

1 oz cream

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Grate fresh nutmeg over as a garnish.

#8 French Connection

What happens when you bring together two delicious spirits, one French, one Italian, and combine them in a cocktail? You get the French Connection, a real beauty of an after-dinner drink. Cognac meets Amaretto (an Italian almond liqueur) in equal proportions and the results are stupendous.

2 oz Cognac

1 oz Disaronno (or other Amaretto liqueur)

Fill a glass with ice, add ingredients, and stir gently.

Optional: Garnish with a lemon peel.

#9 Stinger

Another delightful, dynamic duo, the Stinger is part Cognac and part white Crème de Menthe and delectable all round. No one is quite sure about the origins of the Stinger, but it makes an appearance in cocktail recipe books from the early 20th century. Even James Bond was a fan. He knocks back a few Stingers in both book versions of Thunderball and Diamonds are Forever. And 007 has good taste when it comes to drinking; the Stinger makes for an excellent nightcap.

2 oz Cognac

1 oz Crème de Menthe

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add both ingredients. Shake and strain. This cocktail can be served straight up or over ice, depending on your preferences.

With such a diverse spread of drinking options, you can enjoy Cognac throughout an entire evening from a Champagne Cocktail to a Brandy Alexander. If you haven’t been sipping Cognac, now is the time to start. You’ll never look back.

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Written by Camille Berry

Camille Berry is a UK-based food and drinks writer. Prior to transitioning into full-time freelance drinks writing, Camille excelled as a sommelier and wine director at several of San Francisco’s most well-loved restaurants. Part of the third generation in a family of successful restaurateurs, Camille was born with a passion for all things relating to great food, wine, and spirits. You can find her work on Taste of Home, Wine Folly, Vinepair, Spirited Virginia Magazine, and other publications.

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