In our March issue, several local bartenders shared their insights into what people are drinking these days. Yes, there were the expected trends of mixed drinks, premium vodkas, and flavor-infused spirits. But one that fascinated me was from Erik Brown, the mix master at The Oregon Grille. He said he’s seeing more interest in cognac.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of cognac, I always picture puffy, well-dressed, middle-aged men holding fat snifters of the expensive French brandy and talking about boring stuff. But evidently all that has changed.
Just a few months ago, I heard a segment on NPR about the increasing popularity of cognac due to hip-hop music and rappers like Busta Rhymes ("Pass the Courvoisier"), Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog, and Devino Fortunato, whose often raunchy lyrics put a whole new spin on the luxury drink. The fact that their fans mixed the pricey elixir with plebian Coke didn’t quell the enthusiasm. The rappers were actually on the right track.
After soaring cognac sales in recent years, the global economic downturn and a trend toward mixed cocktails took a bite out of incoming bottles to the U.S. from Cognac, France, where the distilled spirit is made. So the industrious French have come up with a possible solution.
At last year’s International Cognac Summit, they invented a cocktail called, no surprise, The Summit. Besides brandy, it also features lemonade, lime, and ginger. I don’t know if that will help the industry or not. It seems a shame to mix such a fine spirit with other ingredients.