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Make Drawing Room Mixologist Charles Joly's Cognac Cocktails

By Amy Cavanaugh in Food on Nov 6, 2011 7:00PM

Going into a cognac tasting at the Drawing Room last week, I didn’t know much about the grape-based spirit. I’m a brown spirits drinker, but my tastes usually run more toward bourbon and scotch, and I hadn’t ever had more than a nip of cognac here and there.

I blind tasted cognac against Irish whiskey, Scotch whiskey, rye, bourbon, and aged rum to taste the difference between grain and grape-based liquors. I found cognac heavier on the tongue, with a taste that lingered longer in my mouth than any of the other spirits did.

Cognac was originally used in mint juleps, sazeracs, and other classic cocktails that now feature bourbon and other spirits. It fell off the radar over the years, thanks in part to an insect attack that destroyed many French vineyards in the late 19th century. With the resurgence of interest in the classics, it’s starting to appear on more and more cocktail menus.

At the tasting, Drawing Room chief mixologist Charles Joly made a mint julep and a sazerac with Rémy Martin 1738. I appreciate both cocktails the way I’ve always had them—the julep with bourbon and the sazerac with rye. But substituting cognac altered each drink subtly, rounding out the flavor and making it go down easier.

Joly then made two cocktails of his own devising—Three Times the Vine, made with a fortified wine that uses cognac, simple syrup, and cava. The Centaur, my favorite, had a really nice bitter flavor when mixed with espresso liqueur and orange bitters. While not currently on the menu, you can ask for them at the Drawing Room.

Three Times the Vine

1½ oz. Rémy 1738 Accord Royal
¾ oz. Pineau des charentes
¾ oz. fresh lemon
½ oz. simple
1 oz. rosé cava

1. Combine 1738, vermouth, lemon and simple in a mixing glass.
2. Add ice and shake.
3. Add cava and roll to combine.
4. Strain into coupe.
5. Mist with orange oil and place twist decoratively.

The Centaur

2 oz. Rémy 1738 Accord Royal
1/3 oz. Cherry Heering
1/3 oz. Galliano Ristretto
2 dashes Fee orange bitters

1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
2. Stir to chill and dilute.
3. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice.
4. Garnish with lemon peel.