National Cognac Day - June 4 National Cognac Day is celebrated every year on June 4. Nobody seems to know when this day of recognition started, or by whom, but it is a marvelous reason to celebrate this exceptional spirit.

What is Cognac anyway?

Named after the town of Cognac in France, Cognac is a variety of brandy. It is produced in the wine-growing region surrounding the town from which it takes its name. To have the name "Cognac" it must be distilled from specific varietals of grapes, grown in the region, double-distilled in copper pot-stills, and aged in French Oak for a minimum of 2 years, and often much longer. Cognac was as popular through the end of the 1800's as vodka or gin is today! In fact, cognac was the original bar staple and it was hard for cognac producers to keep up with the demand.  If you look in older cocktail books, the number of brandy drinks equal or exceed the number of gin or vodka drinks. Cognac fell out of favor in the US during the mid 20th century, possibly because it was viewed as a "luxury" spirit and it was difficult to obtain during the World War eras. There are more than 200 cognac producers, however, more than 90% for the US market comes from only four producers: Courvoisier, Hennessy, Martell, and Rémy Martin

Understanding a Cognac bottle label...

  • V.S. ("very special") or ✯✯✯ (three stars) designates a blend in which the youngest brandy has been stored for at least two years in a cask.
  • V.S.O.P. ("very superior old pale") or "Reserve" designates a blend in which the youngest brandy is stored for at least four years in a cask.
  • XO ("extra old") or "Napoléon" designates a blend in which the youngest brandy is stored for at least six years. In 2016, the minimum storage age of the youngest brandy used in an XO blend will be set to ten years.

How to Drink Cognac...

  • The traditional way to drink a fine (V.S.O.P. or XO) Cognac is "neat" in a brandy snifter slightly warmed over a flame.
  • Any cocktail recipe that calls for Brandy as a major ingredient will be taken to a whole new level when you substitute Cognac. (Don't waste the XO Cognac on a mixed drink, however. XO is definitely a sipping spirit!)
  • Substitute Cognac for Whiskey in your favorite Whiskey based cocktail. You will be surprised how well it works and how the drink is transformed into a new taste sensation.
Try these 5 Essential Brandy Cocktails to get started on your Cognac exploration...and celebrate National Cognac Day!

Did You Know?...

These popular liqueurs are made with Cognac! Grand Marnier: made from cognac and distilled essence of bitter orange Pineau des Charentes: a sweet apéritif, composed of eau-de-vie and grape must, made in the Charente region Domaine De Canton: cognac based ginger liqueur Chambord Liqueur: made from cognac infused with black and red raspberries and Madagascar vanilla