20 best Cognac cocktails
Words by Simon Difford
The most luxurious of all spirits, cognac has a velvety warmth capable of lifting the most grim of wintery nights. As my hero, David Embury, says in his Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, "brandy is not only the oldest of all liquors but it is universally recognised as the finest."
Cognac is also an elder statesman of the cocktail cabinet and a staple in the earliest cocktail tomes, adding complexity to the simplest of recipes.
With: Old Tom gin, cognac, sweet vermouth, orange curaçao, and orange bitters.
We say: Zesty orange notes help the cleaning attributes of this spirit-forward cocktail, so making it equally suited to the pre-dinner and after-dinner occasions
With: Cognac, brown crème de cacao, white crème de cacao, and single cream
We say: This after-dinner classic is rich, creamy and subtly chocolaty.
With: Cognac, sugar syrup and fresh egg.
We say: An alternative to advocate for those without raw egg inhibitions.
With: Cognac, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth and aromatic bitters.
We say: Cognac is sweeter than the rye whiskey on which the Manhattan is classically based, hence cognac suits a 'perfect' rather than 'sweet' Manhattan recipe
Brandy Old Fashioned (Wisconsin-style)
With: Fresh orange, maraschino cherries, muscovado sugar syrup, aromatic bitters and cognac.
We say: Fruity and lightly sweetened brandy cooled and diluted with crushed ice. What's not to like?
With: Cognac, Grand Marnier, and dry vermouth.
We say: Cognac and Grand Marnier are well-suited bedfellows in this spirit forward "stiff steadier". Dry vermouth adds balance and herbal complexity.
Ce Soir (This Evening)
With: Cognac, Cynar, Yellow Chartreuse, orange bitters, and aromatic bitters.
We say: Brandy-based, bittersweet and herbal. A good after-dinner digestif.
With: Cognac, sweet vermouth, Campari, orange bitters.
We say: Reminiscent of a cognac-based Negroni served straight-up.
With: A sugar cube, aromatic bitters, cognac, brut champagne.
We say: Starts bone dry and becomes slightly sweeter as you reach the dissolving cube at the bottom, depending on how brisky you drink of course.
With: Cognac, Green Chartreuse, lemon juice, sugar syrup, and aromatic bitters.
We say: A great after-dinner cocktail for lovers of cognac and Chartreuse.
Club Cocktail (Difford's recipe)
With: Cognac, pisco, maraschino liqueur, pineapple juice, and creole bitters.
We say: Cognac and pisco with maraschino and pineapple adding fruity tropical freshness and a foamy head.
With: Maraschino liqueur, cognac, white crème de cacao, and ginger liqueur.
We say: Maraschino cherry aromas strike first as you enjoy this cognac-laced, subtly chocolate and ginger after-dinner cocktail
East India No.1
With: Cognac, red curaçao liqueur, raspberry syrup, maraschino liqueur and aromatic bitters.
We say: A splash of floral red curaçao, raspberry syrup and the merest touch of maraschino delicately flavour and lightly sweeten this spirit-forward brandy-based cocktail.
With: Cognac, triple sec, limoncello, and lemon juice.
We say: This Difford version of the Gennaro's Sidecar is predictably boozier than the original but retains the balance between sweet limoncello liqueur and tart lemon juice.
With: Cognac, Grand Marnier, dry vermouth, cherry brandy, and maraschino liqueur.
We say: Spiritous and richly fruit with orange and cherry combining harmoniously with cognac
With: Cognac, bourbon, Bénédictine D.O.M, sweet vermouth, and aromatic bitters.
We say: A Sweet Manhattan with a herbal touch of Bénédictine and cognac. Drier and more complex than our Preakness Cocktail recipe.
Sidecar Cocktail (Difford's spec.)
With: Cognac, triple sec, lemon juice, and pineau des charentes blanc.
We say: Complex and just on the tart side of balanced, so still very much a sour.
With: Cognac, Vermouth di Torino, Bénédictine D.O.M, and Boker's bitters.
We say: A beautifully balanced, spirit-forward, stirred, cognac-based cocktail with Vermouth di Torino and herbal liqueur
Vieux Carré Cocktail
With: Cognac, bourbon, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine D.O.M, creole and aromatic bitters.
We say: A served on-the-rocks with added herbal complexity and an all-important splash and dash or two of New Orleans' French Quarter.
With: Cognac, aged rum, tawny port, maraschino liqueur and aromatic bitters.
We say: A potent (pleasingly so) late-night sipping cocktail that's rendered less volatile by serving on the rocks.