Guest Post–Cognac: A collision of cultures

People have been enjoying cognac for hundreds of years, and this complex tipple is still a hit with drinkers. A type of brandy made in the region surrounding the town of Cognac in France, it must be produced from at least 90 percent ugni blanc, folle blanche or colombard grapes. The remaining ten percent can be made from ten further selected grape varieties. However, most cognac is made solely from ugni blanc grapes. It’s also worth noting that the beverage must be distilled twice in copper pot stills and then aged for at least two and a half years in oak barrels in order to be considered official.

When people think of cognac, they often conjure up images of middle-aged men sitting around the fireplace with a glass in one hand and a cigar in the other. It’s certainly true that the drink has bags of traditional appeal.

However, a younger generation are also now reaching for this iconic brandy. In 2001, hiphop artists Busta Rhymes and P. Diddy released a song entitled Pass the Courvoisier, bringing cognac to the attention of young music fans around the world. Other artists to have mentioned the tipple include Ja Rule, 2 Pac, Snoop Doggy Dogg and LL Cool J.

Both nostalgic and new cocktails are another option making cognac trendy for the younger crowd. For example, by adding the brandy to Grand Marnier, lemon juice, and ice cubes, people can create the delicious Baby Doll. For the best results, the lip of the glass should be sugared. The brandy can also be combined with champagne, bitters and sugar and served in an elegant champagne flute.

Traditionalists tend to sip the beverage from tulip or balloon shaped glasses after warming it up using the heat of their hands. This can help to release the aromas and bring out the full flavor. However, some younger cognacs are specially created to be consumed chilled. But thankfully, there’s no right or wrong way to drink cognac. Given the widespread appeal of cognac and its versatility, it seems likely that it will remain a hit with drinkers of all ages and persuasions for the foreseeable future.