From Paris to Cognac in 10 Sips Slideshow
October 16, 2013
Travel to Cognac without ever leaving your seat with these fabulous cognacs
Whet your appetite for cognac with the Smooth Tempt8tion from Bar 8 at the elegant Mandarin Oriental Paris. It’s an unforgettable combination of fig syrup, orange juice, Courvoisier Cognac, bitter plum, and champagne that gets your palate primed for cognac appreciation.
Before leaving Paris for Cognac via high-speed rail (known as the TGV, as there is no airport in Cognac) don’t miss a cognac cocktail at the ex-pat hideaway The Little Red Door in the Marais neighborhood: Its tiki-inspired Fog Cutter, with Cognac Merlet, rum, and peanut syrup shows how versatile the spirit can be in mixed drinks.
Driving through the six designated grape-growing areas, or crus, surrounding Cognac, you’ll see plenty of vineyards — mostly growing ugni blanc grapes — which supply the major cognac houses with eau de vie used for cognac production. See if you can steal a grape or two right off the vine to get a sense of the spirit’s true origins before setting off for formal cognac tastings.
Tours and tastings will make up most of your experience in Cognac, and while Courvoisier offers plenty of traditional expressions of the spirit to try, the Courvoisier Rosé is a refreshing, ready-to-drink mixture of French red grape juice and cognac that serves as a punchy aperitif, and it’s easy to see why it’s a hit with millennials.
Don’t miss a tour of the haunting Château de Cognac, home base of D’ussé (and birthplace of Renaissance King Francis I) — its must-try cognac challenges the palate with a spicy, rye-like kick.
At Rémy Martin, visits can be custom-designed, depending on your level of obsession with the spirit. And while the brand is famous for its special-occasion (read: ultra-expensive) Louis XIII release, explore cognac for everyday drinks. A pour of 1½ ounces of Rémy Martin VSOP works wonders when simply topped off with ginger ale over ice.
On its own, Hennessy VS is smoky and redolent of fruit, but this bottling makes an ideal base for the traditionally gin-focused bramble cocktail. Try 1½ ounces of cognac with ½ ounce of fresh lemon juice, 4 to 5 muddled blackberries, ½ ounce of simple syrup, and ¼ ounce Crème de Cassis shaken over ice.
Your visit to Cognac won’t be complete without a sip of Louis Royer Preference VSOP — a beautiful expression of cognac boasting a unique floral nose and complex prune-vanilla palate that’s a true pleasure to sip neat.
After touring Martell — one of the oldest cognac houses, established in 1715 — snag a bottle of Cordon Bleu XO: It’s rich and warming, with notes of baking spices, gingerbread, and cocoa meant for slow sipping.
End your spirited journey on the banks of the Charente River — which historically transported cognac to London — and enjoy a sunset toast with your favorite cognac discovered on your tasting adventure. Worried about drinking in public? Hey, this is France, after all, c’est la vie.