Tag Archives: cognac cocktails

Drink of the Week: Heavenly Hibiscus

It seems a stretch when people describe cocktails as sublime or divine or heavenly. Like, can a drink taste so good it inspires awe? Well, the aptly named Heavenly Hibiscus, created by James Nguyen of Royale Brasserie Francaise, comes awfully close.

You'll have a hard time stopping once you start siping this vanilla-meets-cognac-and-hibiscus taste sensation, aptly named the Heavenly Hibiscus.

You’ll have a hard time stopping once you start siping this vanilla, cognac and hibiscus taste sensation, aptly named the Heavenly Hibiscus.

In fact, once I started sipping I had a hard time putting down the glass, so intoxicating is its combination of cognac, vanilla liqueur and apple juice. It’s strong and rich, with the heady scent of vanilla transformed into something drinkable. There are also hibiscus flowers in there — Nguyen makes his own cordial (see recipe, below) — and a splash of lemon juice for tartness. The drink is intended to demonstrate that cocktails made with cognac can be light, long and easy to drink. I may have asked him for a to-go cup (request denied).

Heavenly Hibiscus

  • 1-1/3 oz Chateau Montifaud VS cognac
  • 2/3 oz Giffard’s Vanille de Madagascar
  • 1/2 oz Hibiscus Cordial*
  • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz apple juice
  • Garnish: 3 thin apple slices, skewered

Method: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with three thin apple slices artfully arranged on a skewer.

*Hibiscus Cordial

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. hibiscus flowers from Silk Road Spice Merchant

Method: Combine sugar and water and heat until just simmering and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add hibiscus flowers. Let steep like a tea. When cool, strain out flowers and refrigerate cordial.

— Recipes courtesy James Nguyen, Royale Brasserie Française

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Drink of the Week: Tres Fashionable

Drinking Old Fashioneds is the fashionable thing to do, it’s true. There’s one on seemingly every menu — with slight variations like unique bitters flavours such as black walnut — and they’re a fan favourite among men.

I came across this French version of an Old Fashioned, called a Tres Fashionable, at Parc Cafe and Brasserie while researching my June Spirited Calgary column for the Calgary Herald, which is all about the proliferation of French bistros and cocktails (running June 13). The Tres Fashionable uses a mix of cognac and Calvados instead of bourbon or rye, and it’s sweetened with a touch of vanilla syrup. This cocktail works on a sunny patio or sipped inside a warm room on a rainy spring evening. Salut!

Parc Cafe and Brasserie makes an Old Fashioned using French ingredients.

Parc Cafe and Brasserie makes an Old Fashioned using French ingredients.

Tres Fashionable

  • 1-1/2 oz Camus Cognac VS
  • 1/2 oz Boulard Calvados (Pays d’Auge)
  • 1/2 oz vanilla syrup
  • Toasted oak bitters (Napa Valley Bitters)

Method: Into a mixing glass add the cognac, Calvados and vanilla syrup. Add ice and stir for approximately 30 seconds. Spritz a rocks glass with a spray of toasted oak bitters. Strain the contents of the mixing glass into the rocks glass and then add one more spritz of bitters on top of the drink.

— Recipe courtesy Matt LaRocque, Parc Cafe and Brasserie

Drink of the Week: Norfolk Flip

I attended a holiday party a couple weeks before Christmas and the host shook up this delightful — and light — take on a traditional eggnog. It’s called a Norfolk Flip; the recipe is featured in the latest issue of Culinaire magazine. Traditionally a ‘flip’ was a drink heated with a fire poker — this method caused the liquid to steam and bubble, a technique called flipping. Eventually bartenders began using eggs to create the desired frothy effect.

A delicious alternative to a traditional eggnog.

A delicious alternative to a traditional eggnog.

The beauty of this drink is it’s made without milk or cream, but still tastes smooth and rich — the secret is the egg (and the spiced simple syrup). This cocktail makes a nice fireside sip throughout the holidays, or toast with it on New Year’s Eve. Cheers!

Happy holidays everyone!

Happy holidays everyone!

Norfolk Flip

  • 1 oz cognac (I used Courvoisier VS)
  • 1 oz dark rum (I used Mount Gay Eclipse)
  • 1 oz spiced syrup*
  • 3 drops bitters
  • 1 whole egg
  • Nutmeg garnish

*Spiced syrup

  • 1:1 raw sugar to water boiled and steeped with a desired amount of cloves, green cardamom, pimento and fresh grated cinnamon.

Combine the fresh cracked egg and liquid ingredients in a shaker. Dry shake to emulsify egg, then add ice and shake again. Strain into a rocks glass with one large ice cube inside. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.

— Recipe modified from Culinaire, by Tarquin Melnyk

Drink of the Week: Blueberry Tea

Now here’s a drink I might make if I wanted tea with a little something special. Tea is trendy in the cocktail world right now; yes, it’s come a long way since its inaugural boozy abomination, the Long Island Iced Tea. You can now drink orange pekoe with Amarula and cinnamon for a “Naughty or Nice,” or chilled green tea with mint, gin and ginger beer for a “Teajito.” Or, pull out all the stops and mix cognac into your Earl Grey in a Blueberry Tea.

A strong and fruity take on a traditional Blueberry Tea cocktail at Yellow Door Bistro.

A strong and fruity take on a traditional Blueberry Tea at Yellow Door Bistro.

Traditionally a Blueberry Tea is a warm drink made with tea — usually Earl Grey or Orange Pekoe — and spiked with amaretto and Grand Marnier. Oddly, blueberries do not make an appearance into the mug; it’s so named because of the subtle fruity flavour of the drink. The mixologists at Calgary’s Yellow Door Bistro decided to up the ante by adding cognac into their version.

Now, I’m not one to turn down a serving of Courvoisier XO, but I do have a little quibble here. I think XO, aged as it is on average 20 years, is best sipped neat. Swapping in a VS or VSOP cognac is the way to go when using this spirit in a cocktail — one of these will deliver a fortified wallop to tea time, and you can still raise your pinky when sipping. Civilized, indeed.

Courvoisier Blueberry Tea

  • 1/2 oz Courvoisier XO
  • 1/4 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 oz amaretto
  • Earl Grey tea

Into a glass mug of hot Earl Grey add Courvoisier, Grand Marnier and amaretto. Garnish with an orange twist.

— Recipe courtesy Yellow Door Bistro

Drink of the Week: Brandy Flip

Short, cool days make me crave short, strong drinks, like the Brandy Flip. It also helps that I’m researching this particular libation for my March Avenue magazine column, so I decided to make one in the name of journalistic inquiry.

The nutmeg makes a pretty and fragrant garnish on a brandy flip.

The nutmeg makes a pretty and fragrant garnish on a brandy flip.

This drink could be mistaken for eggnog, what with the booze and cream and sugar and egg. And it is rather like a single serving of nog, but it exclusively uses brandy (or even better, cognac) rather than bourbon or rum. And though some brandy flip recipes omit the egg, let’s be honest — do you really want to shake a whole egg (including the yolk!) into your cocktail without a dairy buffer? Adding cream or milk smooths out the drink.

The end result is a strong fireside sip with all the charm of eggnog, but without its baggage (mainly, the name). In a word, you’ll flip for it. (Sorry.)

I prefer cognac in my brandy flip.

I prefer cognac in my brandy flip.

Brandy Flip

  • 1-1/2 oz Remy Martin VSOP cognac
  • 1/3 oz simple syrup
  • 1/3 oz cream (I used 2% milk = fewer calories)
  • 1 fresh whole egg
  • Nutmeg ganish

Vigorously shake all ingredients with ice then double strain into a chilled martini glass. Sprinkle nutmeg on top for garnish.

Drink of the Week: Remy Ginger

I’m the first to admit I don’t know a lot about cognac. Sure, I love a good sidecar cocktail, and I’ll pick a snifter of Remy Martin over two fingers of scotch any day. But quiz me on the differences between VS, VSOP and XO when it comes to cognac and I’ll be lucky to get two out of three.

So it was with great curiosity that I attended a lunch at the Yellow Door Bistro last week with Alexandre Quintin, global brand ambassador for a luxury cognac from the house of Remy Martin called Louis XIII. And by luxury I mean, pretty darn expensive (e.g. about $3,000 per bottle). Packaged in a crystal Baccarat decanter, the Louis XIII is a blend of cognacs that range in age from 40 to 100 years old.

The Louis XIII has been aged so long, cobwebs have taken over the cellar.

The cognacs that make up the Louis XIII have been aged so long, cobwebs have taken over the cellar. Image courtesy Select Wines & Spirits.

Quintin spoke about the Louis XIII with reverence, saying that its competition isn’t other cognacs, but instead luxury watches or perhaps a bottle of Petrus wine. “It’s the most sought-after spirit in the world. You need four generations of cellar masters in the house to make one blend,” he said. I immediately pictured myself drinking it with European friends on my luxury yacht whilst sailing the Mediterranean after winning the lottery:

This is how I imagine life with a bottle of Louis XIII.

This is how I imagine life with a bottle of Louis XIII. Image courtesy Select Wines & Spirits.

Sadly, an entire bottle was not in the cards, so I settled for a generously-poured glass of the elixir (estimated cost: $300). Quintin prepared my palate for the Louis XIII by having me sample just a small drop. And then, the fateful first sip. Now, I could try and impress you by describing its “warm fruity notes, hint of maple, and smoky, almost tobacco-like finish,” but who am I kidding? Did I like it? Yes! Because of my new-found knowledge, it tasted way better than a Rolex. Also, because it’s cognac, I could close my eyes and picture myself on the yacht, above — definitely more memorable than a glass of fine wine.

Of course, if you don’t plan on cashing in your RRSPs in order to run out and buy a bottle of Louis XIII, there are other ways you can enjoy cognac this weekend. We started the lunch with this refreshing cocktail, a Remy Ginger, which transformed the sippable Remy Martin VSOP into a guzzle-worthy patio highball. Enjoy!

Cognac doesn't just have to be sipped -- it makes a great patio guzzler in this Remy Ginger highball.

Cognac doesn’t just have to be sipped — it makes a great patio guzzler in this Remy Ginger highball.

Remy Ginger

  • 1-1/2 oz Remy Martin VSOP
  • Ginger ale
  • Ice

Pour Remy Martin VSOP in a highball glass with ice and top with ginger ale.

–Recipe courtesy Select Wines & Spirits