In Berlin, the Truffle Pig Bar is a speakeasy hidden in the back of the Kauz & Kiebitz, a very popular beer bar in the working-class neighborhood of Neukölln. French mixologist Damien Guichard is a big fan of Cognac. Journalist Marie Raymond met up with him over a Sidecar (Cognac, lemon, Triple Sec).
What is it about Cognac that you love?
– Cognac is an amber-colored, soft and velvety spirit. It is very delicate, yet very comforting. With notes of honey and almond, it is almost like a dessert. Generally speaking, being French, I like working with products specific to their terroir, such as Cognac, especially since France has a long history of regional spirits. But I think what I like most about Cognac is its versatility – it is both very fruity and floral, perfect for spicing up cocktails.
So, how do you work Cognac into your cocktails?
– In lots of ways! For example, I have created a cocktail using unfiltered sake and Cognac with a little lemon juice. It is very light on the palate, with beautiful notes of honey and almond. Until recently, we had a cocktail on the menu made from shiitake mushrooms, amber vermouth, and Cognac. I have also done a new take on the Sazerac by using Cognac infused with fresh mint. And I am a huge fan of the classic Vieux Carré (rye whiskey, red vermouth, Cognac, Bénédictine, Peychaud’s Bitters, Angostura Bitters)!
As a mixologist, do you feel that there is a lot of competition stirred by Cognac brands?
– At the moment, brands are doing a great job promoting their Cognacs, especially by encouraging bartenders to come up with new cocktails. And this is a good thing because these are beautiful products that cocktail-lovers really enjoy. Also, they are considered as exceptional because their rules of production, unlike other spirits, are very stringent, which adds to their exclusive image!