Posts Tagged ‘Cognac’

Twenty Seven: Cherry Republic

July 14, 2009

Today is Bastille Day, the annual French celebration of storming prisons and liberating hundreds of deserving criminals. As we speak, this year’s breakout has seen no less than four hundred benefit fraudsters, petty thieves and mimes flood the cafés and galleries of Paris, smoking Gitanes and complaining about the food.

There’s no better way to mark the occasion than with a drink, but I’d been having some trouble pulling things together until I spotted a carton of cherry juice in the supermarket. It’s a little bland and quite dry by itself, but add a touch of gomme and a decent measure of Cognac, et voila!

Cherry Republic
45ml Courvoisier Exclusif
30ml cherry juice
1 barspoon gomme
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks/old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon zest twist and a cocktail cherry.


MxMo XL: Ginger

June 15, 2009

Like other stuff, Mixology Monday happens every month, but is at least 7,000% more fun than paying your rent. This month, RumDood challenges us to find a use for ginger, in any of its various forms.

Ginger is a wonderful thing. Its mere presence elevates a run-of-the-mill stir fry towards the awesome and beyond that, it’s versatile and easily fermentable. It’s worth noting that having ginger hair is often treated as a kind of social disability in Scotland, but combining the physical trait with the root can be a powerful thing.

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Week Nineteen: Brandyberry Julep

May 15, 2009

There are three stories to tell, in two loose categories. Two are about products, two are about things I wouldn’t think about that often.

Yes, the math doesn’t quite add up.

The first story, in which I’m going to have come clean. There’s a reason I’ve been using a lot of Creme de Mure in recent recipes – Edmond Briottet. According to Oh Gosh!, Briottet liqueurs have been produced in Dijon, France since 1936 but aren’t that well known outside of France. I picked up a bottle of their Creme de Mure to use for the Highland Bramble I made for February’s Mixology Monday and was totally blown away. It’s at least as good as any other brand I’ve come across in bars across Scotland, and a good deal better than most. As ever, when you fall in love with a product, it figures large in anything you come up with. It helps that blackberry goes with light spirits as well as dark spirits.

Act two – the other side of the coin. Just as there are the things you always go to, there’s always a shelf full of products that you don’t really use. For me, the biggest categories I tend to ignore are bourbon and Cognac. Bourbon tends to lose out to Scotch in my thinking because, being honest, I’m in Scotland; it seem foolish to ignore the massive variation within that category when it’s so readily available, but there’s no particular reason for me not to consider Cognac. Having cashed in a few weeks of change, I decided to invest in a decent bottle of Cognac (Courvoisier Exclusif, as it turned out) with the intention of improving my opinion of that. The recipe that follows is step on that road, I guess.

The final story is one from work. One of the bar staff asked me to speak to a customer who was complaining about their drink – he was holding an Old-fashioned. I remembered another bartender asking me how to make one a little earlier in the evening, for a drinks check. I took him through, and we made a great tasting drink – which was back at the bar in the hands of a less-than-happy customer. So, I took a breath and walked over, introduced myself and asked if there was a problem with his drink.

“I asked for a mint julep.”

This might not strike anyone as surprising or unlikely, but I’ve been working full-time at my current bar for over three years and that was the first time that anyone has ever ordered a mint julep. I apologised and explained that as we didn’t get asked for juleps that often, it was possible that the staff were unfamiliar with the drink. We got the correct drink put together and sent out, and everyone went home happy.

There are some drinks that make it and some drinks that don’t. The mint julep had completely fallen off my radar, while the mojito is currently the UK’s most popular cocktail.

This week’s drink is pretty simple, based on those three things – one ingredient I use a lot, one I don’t, all combined in a style of drink I haven’t thought of in forever.


Photo © 2009, Hugh Beauchamp

Brandyberry Julep
45ml Courvoisier Exclusif
15ml Edmond Briottet Creme de Mure
10ml gomme syrup (2:1 ratio of sugar to water)
6-8 mint leaves
Build in a highball glass with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig.

One more thing: spot that lovely picture? It was taken by the wonderful Hugh Beauchamp – check him out on Flickr and Twitter.

Week Fifteen: Mystère

April 18, 2009

Once upon a time, Cognac was the drink of choice for the higher orders of society and the undisputed leader among spirits, but that was before phylloxera decimated French wine production allowing whiskies and rums to come to prominence, and before the British government started to promote gin over imports from a country it frequently warred with.

Cognac has heritage and tradition in spades which adds to the aura of luxury around the category, but it can also make the spirit seem fussy and impenetrable. Which is shame, because that previous dominance is based on the quality of the product rather than mere terroir or aging.

So, I made a conscious choice to make something with a Cognac base which isn’t something I do that often. Vermouth seemed like a no-brainer, wine-based modifier with a grape-based spirit. Keeping the complementary theme, I used some Mandarine Napoleon – a brandy-based liqueur not unlike Grand Marnier, only Belgian and more mandarine-y.

30ml Courvoisier VS
30ml Mandarine Napoleon
15ml Dubonnet Rouge
1 lemon zest
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled brandy glass.