Thanks for buying a Cognac Classics Box! This page contains all the recipes, tips and information you need to make 2×2 great cocktails (and an optional extra one) and learn about the history of Cognac.
This month’s box makes 4-5 cocktails from:
- The Sidecar
- Between the sheets
- B & B
As well as the contents of the box, you will need:
- 2-3 Lemons
- A coupe or martini glass
- a mixologist kit
- cubed ice
Let’s get started!
So what is Cognac?
Cognac is simply a variety of Brandy, produced in a specific area of France. The designation is very similar to how Champagne may only be so called if it is produced in the Champagne region. It must also be made with at least 90% of the grapes from a specified list of approved varieties.
The grapes are pressed and left to ferment for 2-3 weeks into a form of (thoroughly undrinkable) weak white wine. That wine is then twice distilled in copper pot stills to about 70% abv, then aged at least 2 years in oak barrels from Limousin or Tronçais. The ageing process causes much of the alcohol and water to evaporate, leaving it closer to 40% abv. Many Cognacs are aged considerably longer to allow the barrels to impart more flavour into the spirit.
Cognacs are given a grade to reflect how long they have been aged. Like Scotch whisky, many people consider the best to be the longest aged, but also like scotch, there are some truly excellent younger ones as well, particularly for mixing cocktails.
V.S or “very special” = minimum of 2 years aged.
V.S.O.P or “very special old pale” = minimum of 4 years aged.
X.O or “extra old” = minimum of 6 years aged, but on average upwards of 20 years!
Courvoisier Cognac V.S
Courvoisier is one of the big 4 cognac producers in the region, and the company has existed since 1809. Legend has it that Napoleon Bonaparte took several cases of Cognac from Courvoisier with him to St Helena.
Courvoisier use only one type of grape, Ugni Blanc, which means it’s the brandy equivalent of a scotch single malt. The company hand-crafts its own barrels and stores many different batches of Cognac, which are then blended until the perfect flavour is achieved, before bottling and selling.
Courvoisier V.S should both smell and taste of french oak, spring flowers and ripe fruits. Particularly lemon, pear, orange and grape.
Giffard Pacifico Triple Sec
Emile Giffard was a pharmacist in Angers, France. In 1885 he experimented with a mint liqueur to relieve a sufferer of heat and due to its success, converted his pharmacy into a distillery and began creating new interesting concoctions. The Giffard company now has a vast range of liqueurs and flavoured cocktail ingredients for sale globally.
I have chosen this Triple sec over countless alternatives due to it’s lower alcohol content (25% compared to a usual 40%) and inclusion of sugar syrup as an ingredient. Usually the cocktails below require sugar syrup to be added, but this simplifies the drink and leaves it slightly sweeter and lighter than it might otherwise be, which I think suits the recipes better.
On the nose, there are zesty, peppery aromas with musty citrus. And on the palate, hints of mahogany, orange zest, spices and notes of blood orange.
Bénédictine D.O.M liqueur
I’ve often heard that it was originally made by the monks of the Bénédictine Abbey of Fécamp in Normandy, as a medicinal beverage, but in fact Alexandre Le Grand invented the recipe himself, helped by a local chemist, and he told this story to connect the liqueur with the city history to increase sales.
The recipe is a closely guarded secret, known only to a few members of the company, but cloves, cardamom, liquorice, honey, butterscotch, prune and orange are just some of the flavours you might be able to note on the nose or palate.
Every bottle of Bénédictine has the initials D.O.M. on the label, which stands for “Deo Optimo Maximo” (“To God, most good, most great”). This abbreviation is commonly used at the beginning of documents of the Bénédictine Order as a short dedication of the work.
Burnley Miners’ Club in Lancashire is the world’s biggest single consumer of Bénédictine, after Lancashire regiments acquired a taste for it during the First World War.
The sidecar is most definitely a classic, but it’s not as old as some. It’s believed to have been invented at a bar in Paris during World War One. It’s commonly assumed that it was Harry’s New York Bar and that the cocktail was created by its owner, Harry MacElhone.
Here I’ve taken Simon Difford’s recipe, which is a variation on the original (which was a 1:1:1 ratio) and I have further altered it by using Giffard’s Pacifico Triple Sec which is 25% abv and includes sugar syrup as an ingredient, where a more standard Triple Sec would be 40% and less sweet.
Some bartenders sugar rim a glass for a Sidecar, but I hope you’ll agree that my recipe sweetens it enough, while maintaining the characteristic sour-side-of-balanced taste of a Sidecar.
The Sidecar Recipe:
- 45ml Courvoisier Cognac V.S.
- 30ml Giffard Pacifico Triple Sec
- 22ml lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- lemon peel to garnish
Ensure you have a coupe or martini glass in the freezer and that it has had enough time to chill. If you don’t, fill it with ice cubes before you start making the drink, and discard them before pouring the cocktail into the glass.
Pour all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, fill it with cubes ice, shake vigorously for 5-10 seconds and then fine strain into the glass.
Garnish with a twist of lemon peel (peeled and twisted over the glass to ensure the oils from the peel are expressed onto the surface of the cocktail.
Simple… but kind of brilliant.
Between the Sheets #2
This is basically just a Sidecar with added Bénédictine, but Bénédictine is such a complex and flavoursome liqueur on its own, that it really alters the taste and makes something entirely different (in a very good way!)
The standard Between the Sheets cocktails is actually more like a Sidecar made with Rum instead of Brandy, but the variation I’m using here was created by David Wondrich, and then adapted by Simon Difford.
The original Between the Sheets was also supposedly created by Harry MacElhone in Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in the 20s.
Between the Sheets #2 Recipe:
- 30ml Courvoisier Cognac V.S
- 15ml Bénédictine
- 15ml Giffard Pacific Triple Sec
- 8ml lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
Chill a coupe or martini glass before preparing. In the same way as the Sidecar, pour all ingredients into the shaker, fill with ice and shake, then fine-strain into the glass.
Garnish with an orange peel twist if you have one to hand, or a lemon peel.
The B & B
If you’ve made 2 of each of the main cocktails, you should still have 50ml of Cognac and about 20ml Bénédictine left over. I’d recommend making a very short B&B, then having the remaining Cognac on its own as well to appreciate its flavour.
- 1 part Bénédictine
- 1 part Brandy (Courvoisier Cognac V.S)
- Brandy and Bénédictine… B&B.
Pour both into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass or small tumbler. Stir for 30-45 seconds, add more ice if needed and then sip and enjoy. No garnish needed.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your cocktails this month! Join the mailing list to make sure you know when our new box is released, or subscribe to guarantee yourself a new box every month, access to all our old recipes, and exclusive discounts and deals!