Cognac. I hear that word and my pinky automatically extends. I develop a heavy, fake French accent. My pocketbook screeches in horror. It's unapproachable.
Imagine my surprise when, in Chicago in October, I wandered into Wine Riot 2018 and was handed a card to attend a Cognac class. My pinkie extended as I took the card and sidled past a Chicago dog vendor and the Jam Jar Wines booth and took a seat at a cloth covered table complete with a variety of fancy bar tools.
We were going to learn to make a French 75 substituting Cognac for Gin. I'm in. Gin is not my jam, but a fine brandy I am typically forced to not buy, is.
Cognac is basically fancified Brandy made specifically from grapes in the Cognac region of France. Hennessey - the brand sponsoring this class - makes 50 percent of all the world's Cognac, and has been since 1765.
It's known as the "Drink of Kings" and is considered by those in the know as one of the finest of spirits. I was pleased to be getting to taste my way through some of it. For free. Not only did we mix it into the French 75 (here's the recipe), we had a taste of the Hennessey VSOP neat, and the Hennessey XO with ice. Trust me when I say all three sips were amazing and different.
Cognac is not to be rushed. And it tastes like it. Complicated yet simple. Soft yet spicy. Hints of complexity. Vanilla. Apricot. Caramel. Coffee . . . to die for. And I'm sure people have.
The class helped me feel Cognac is approachable. I may talk my wallet into a bottle for a special occasion. My pinky will be extended and I will pronounce it with a horribly fake French accent.
We have been friends for more years than we haven't. Perhaps because of that or simply because we both have jobs/family that seem to encourage escape, we often bond over an ounce or so of liquid magic. Through these experiences, we have discovered the joys that can come with a well-crafted cocktail, quality beer, and excellent wine. It's about quality for us, and we want to share that with you.