The consumption of cognac is all the rage in New York. Follow the exploration of a thirty-something French woman in New York looking for the best in cocktails and discover how to prepare recipes generated by this enduring New World phenomenon. On the agenda: inspiring encounters and innovative ideas. Adopt this mindset and rediscover cognac !
Cocktail culture reigns in New York and customers act on impulse and feeling. Most cocktail names create complicity within a group of colleagues or friends. For example at Death & Co. in the East Village, cocktails are named in reference to the universe of early 20th century jazz with names such as “Zouzou” and “Dixieland Julep”. The inventive presentation of its cocktail menu certainly played its part in making it the chic and trendy bar it is today.
The art of storytelling is crucial. Franky Marshall, the founder of the Le Boudoir bar in Brooklyn, understands this well. She says that the experience must be total, from the decoration of the bar to the contents of the glass. “The attention I paid to the décor makes you feel “precious”. I like to invite my clients to explore new flavors when they have an occasion to celebrate and to serve drinks with unexpected tastes in beautiful glasses. I like the idea that the experience of refinement I offer is different from what they can find in other Brooklyn bars.”
Joaquin Simo, founder of Pouring Ribbons, draws inspiration from the history of his neighborhood:
“I am creating a sweet and spicy cocktail called the “Gem Spa,” referring to a newsstand at the corner of St. Mark’s Place and Second Avenue in the East Village. This St. Mark’s Place newsstand and candy store has been frequented by East Village residents for decades for its famous chocolate soda. In my interpretation, I chose to add notes of spice and hazelnuts to a chocolate base.”
Creativity is born of constraint. A fine example from Flavien Desoblin of Copper & Oak: “Cognac cocktails are not an obvious choice for non-connoisseurs. To introduce them to clients, I offer them with a syrup that inspires people, such as jasmine, violet or ginger. I called this concept the “Mix-it”. It’s not exactly a classic cocktail in the usual sense, because there is really only one ingredient: cognac, to which ice and just a few drops of syrup are added. My customers love it!”
The magic of blends is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for New York bartenders who renew their menus each season. To help you reconsider the cognac on your menu, here are some of the best lessons we retained from our trip:
How? While the refreshing cognac-based Sidecar with orange and lemon remains a must, try more daring mixes with sweet and delicate combinations such as cherry liqueur for example.
How? Suggest a syrup in combination with Cognac for a successful first experience.
How? Share some cognac history on your menu of signature creations.
How? Make an impression with the names of cocktails and the choice of glass.
How? Collaborate with a chef to create spectacular taste sensations in the mouth.
Acknowledgments / Credits
Thanks to Flavien Desoblin (Copper & Oak), Franky Marshall (Le Boudoir) and Joaquín Simó (Pouring Ribbons) for their warm welcome and advice.