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8 great brandy and Cognac cocktails

How many brandy or Cognac-based cocktails can you name? Better still, how many do you know how to make? Perhaps a few more once we’re done here…

Brandy is the umbrella term for spirits distilled usually from wine (grapes) but they could also be made from other fruit including apples, and are often aged in oak. As a grape-based spirit, Cognac falls under the brandy umbrella but must adhere to a more specific set of production methods and standards, including being made in the Cognac region of France and ageing for a minimum of two years. 

The maturation process brings complexity and depth that not only works a treat sipped neat, but also makes them the ideal foundation for a well-constructed cocktail. When rye, bourbon and Scotch were being drunk by grizzled rustic types, Cognac was the original cocktail ingredient in such classics as the Old Fashioned, Sazerac, and Mint Julep. Younger offerings allow the distillate to shine, while older expressions take on generous layers of rich, tannic oak, so you’ve got a whole spectrum of flavour to play with. 

Whether you prefer something sharp and refreshing, or deep and mellow, these spirits form the base for plenty of classics, which we’re going to explore right here, right now. There’s a reason some of these have been appearing on menus for over a century. Right, let’s get shaking. 

8 great brandy and Cognac cocktails


The Sidecar is a Prohibition-era cocktail that offers a perfect balance of sweet and tart alongside elegant, silky Cognac. 


30ml Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal
20ml Cointreau
10ml fresh lemon juice


Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe glass, garnished with a twist of orange if you prefer a richer character or lemon peel for more fresh, zesty character. 

Between the Sheets

If you’ve got some light rum in the cupboard, why not follow up the Sidecar with one of these? It’s a Sour made with Cognac and rum for double deliciousness.

25ml Hine Rare Cognac
25ml Doorly’s 3 Year Old
25ml Cointreau
7.5ml fresh lemon juice 


Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe or Martini glass. 

Anthony Blanche enjoying a Brandy Alexander in Brideshead Revisited

Brandy Alexander

A decadent dessert cocktail, the Brandy Alexander mixes brandy with cream and chocolate notes, making it a rich and indulgent treat.

30ml Bols Brown Creme de Cacao
30ml Osborne 1866 Solera Gran Reserva30ml whipping or heavy cream


Shake all the ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with some grated nutmeg or a piece of Cadbury’s flake if you’re feeling decadent.

French 75

The original recipe calls for gin but switch it out for Cognac and you’ll find elegant richness and warmth that takes this Champagne cocktail to the next level. 


45ml Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal
15ml simple syrup
15ml lemon juice
Champagne or sparkling wine to top
Lemon twist


Shake the first three ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe or Champagne flute. Top up with chilled Champagne and garnish with a twist of lemon. 

Brandy Sour

Seemingly simple on paper, this one requires precision to pull off successfully. Metaxa is a Greek brandy sweetened with wine so if you’re using something else, you’ll want to adjust the syrup levels. 


50ml Metaxa 12 Stars
20ml lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup
lemon slice


Shake all the ingredients hard and quickly with lots of ice (you don’t want too much dilution). Double strain to remove any ice crystals into a coupe glass, and garnish with a slice of lemon (or you could use an orange twist or a maraschino cherry).

Voila! Un Vieux Carre

Vieux Carré

A staple of New Orleans cocktail culture, the Vieux Carré is a potent, complex drink with layers of flavour, combining whiskey, Cognac, and sweet vermouth.

30ml Michter’s Rye Whiskey
30ml Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal
20ml Cocchi Vermouth Di Torino
5ml Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Discarded lemon twist 


Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lemon twist. 


The Metropolitan is akin to a brandy Manhattan, featuring a smooth blend of brandy with the herbal notes of sweet vermouth, sweetened slightly by the syrup


60ml Pierre Ferrand Ten Générations
30ml sweet vermouth
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Orange twist


Stir with large ice cubes and strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Photo originally published in Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons, published by Ten Speed Press

Horse’s Neck

A delightfully simple mixture of brandy, ginger ale, and bitters, garnished with an all-important spiral of lemon.


50ml Martell VS Single Distillery
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Ginger ale


Fill a Highball glass with ice and add a spiral of lemon zest. Add the Cognac, bitters and a dash of ginger ale, stir, top up with ginger ale, stir gently again, and serve.

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