There are some cocktails that just call for raised pinkies and extravagant toasts, and it's no surprise that most of them are usually cognac-based. A highly popular spirit, cognac is a type of brandy that is made only in Cognac, France. Fancy!
Thankfully, given the complexity and robust taste of cognac, crafting an elegant cocktail that calls for this spirit can be super simple. In fact, one of the most popular cognac cocktails, the sidecar, only calls for three ingredients: cognac, Cointreau and fresh lemon juice (plus an orange twist garnish and sugared rim). Ahead, you'll find several takes on the sidecar, as well as a handful of other easy-to-make and effortlessly fancy, cognac-based cocktails.
The Recipe: Champagne Cup
The Hero Ingredient: A little champagne or sparkling wine is always a great way to fancy up a cocktail.
Pro Tip: For this cocktail, Boulder Locavore's Toni Dash suggests that you play around with different garnishes. "Several garnishes were stipulated originally leaving me with the visual of them all combined delivering a jungle-like experience with the tippler struggling to find the cocktail," she says. "I’d say ‘pick and choose’ as you see fit."
Why We Love It: If that bottle of champagne you purchased months ago is starting to collect dust, this bubbly drink serves as the perfect way to put it to good use.
The Recipe: Refreshing Fig Sidecar
The Hero Ingredient: The addition of homemade fig simple syrup to this classic, cognac cocktail makes for an unexpected and delicious addition.
Pro Tip: Eden Passante of Sugar & Charm offers this wise tip: "Make the simple syrup a few days ahead and store it for 5 days in the refrigerator. Add a dash of cinnamon if serving around the holidays."
Why We Love It: Fig is certainly an underused ingredient in cocktails, so the addition of fig simple syrup to this twist on a classic cocktail is a much appreciated surprise.
The Recipe: Made In France Bénédictine Cocktail
The Hero Ingredient: Bénédictine, an herbal liqueur made in France, provides a mild taste of licorice to this sip.
Pro Tip: Sugar & Charm's Eden Passante provides a simple tip on making the most of this cognac-based sip. "It’s important to stir and mix the ice to dilute the liqueur," she explains. "The cocktail is very similar to what you would think an old fashioned would be."
Why We Love It: No passport? No problem. You'll feel like you've been transported to a quaint, French town with this cocktail.
The Recipe: Cranberry Sidecar Cocktail
The Hero Ingredient: A homemade cranberry syrup, which simply calls for cranberry juice and sugar, adds a tart touch to this flip on a sidecar.
Pro Tip: Sugar & Cloth contributor Ashley Rose Conway reveals that it's always great to have a mental "rolodex" of classic cocktail recipes on hand for special occasions. "Once you have a classic recipe down, you can start branching out and make variations on them," Conway says. "By adding in syrups, swapping out juices or even changing the base spirits, you can create a whole new drink without having to start from scratch."
Why We Love It: This cocktail also comes with the option of using brandy instead of cognac, for those who prefer a sidecar on the sweeter side.
Cognac French 75
The Recipe: Cognac French 75
The Hero Ingredient: Cocktail connoisseurs likely know that the classic French 75 is typically made using gin, but this cocktail offers up a tasty spin by swapping out gin for cognac.
Pro Tip: Garlic & Zest's Lisa Lotts shares a brief history on the use of gin versus cognac in a French 75. "There are two well known, if not always agreed on, ways to make a French 75 (aka: soixante-quinze)," she reveals. "One involves Cognac, the other, Gin. From what I’ve been able to discern the Gin version is the widely accepted 'original' but the Cognac version has the better...and I think...more believable backstory."
Why We Love It: The addition of sparkling wine, and the use of a coupe glass give this cocktail layers of luxury.
Boulevardier With A Twist
The Recipe: Boulevardier With A Twist
The Hero Ingredient: This Boulevardier offers up a twist on the original thanks to the addition of cognac, which is not an ingredient used in the classic recipe.
Pro Tip: A twist of lemon serves as the final step when crafting a number of cocktails, and if you've ever wondered how you can master this step, Shawn Williams of Kitchen Swagger provides a few tips. "A tip on expressing the oils from a peel: You want to point the outer peel (non pith side) outward facing the drink and gently squeeze the edges so the oils spray out over the top of the drink," he says. "If done properly, you can actually see an oily film floating on the surface of your cocktail."
Why We Love It: From a touch of citrus thanks to the lemon peel twist to the warming notes of bourbon and cognac, this cocktail is deliciously well-rounded.
Classic Hot Toddy With Cognac
The Recipe: Classic Hot Toddy With Cognac
The Hero Ingredient: This Hot Toddy swaps out the commonly used whiskey for cognac, creating a Hot Toddy that takes on the qualities of a good cognac, including its notes of vanilla and fresh fruits.
Pro Tip: Whether you're making your hot toddy with whiskey or cognac, Vindulge's Mary Cressler recommends using a high-quality spirit. "What I’ve discovered through years of making hot toddies is the importance of using a good quality spirit — one you are happy sipping on its own," she says.
Why We Love It: The hot toddy is a hands-down favorite for many due to its warming properties, and all you need to fancy up this cognac cocktail is a gorgeous, glass mug and great garnishes.