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Today, June 4, is National Cognac Day!

The origin of Cognac goes back to the 16th century when Dutch settlers came to the Cognac region in France to purchase salt, wood, and wine. Unfortunately, the wine tasted pretty awful after the long journey back home so they started by distilling it for preservation, but eventually they realized a second distillation made for an even better product. And brandy was born! In fact, the word “brandy” comes from the Dutch word “brandewijn” which means burnt wine.

Brandy is made all over the world, but only brandy made in the Cognac region, and under the very strictest guidelines, can be called “Cognac.” The Cognac region stretches over two different regions in western France, Charente-Maritime (bordering the Atlantic Ocean) and Charente (a little further inland). There are six Crus (or growth areas) designated for producing Cognac. Listed in descending order of ageing potential and quality, they are as follows: Grand Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois, and Bois Ordinaires.

Cognac regions in France


And by now you should know that I have a “thing” for cocktails, so below are some of the classic Cognac cocktail recipes that I’ve enjoyed over the years from some of the leading producers of this fine spirit:

Hennessy Ginger Cocktail


  • 1.5 ounces Hennessy V.S
  • 3.5 ounces ginger ale

Directions: Pour the Hennessy cognac into a highball glass. Add cubed ice to fill the glass. Top with ginger ale. Garnish with a lime wedge and/or fresh slices of ginger.

Swift Sangria


  • 1.5 ounces Martell Blue Swift
  • 0.5 ounces Cinnamon syrup
  • 0.5 ounces Lemon juice
  • 3 ounces Campo Viejo Rioja
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Instructions: Add Martell Blue Swift, cinnamon syrup, lemon juice, Campo Viego Rioja, and bitters into a wine glass. Stir to combine. Garnish with orange slices.

Swift Sangria

Grand Old Fashioned


  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier® Cordon Rouge
  • 1 ounce Wild Turkey® 101 Bourbon Whiskey
  • 3 dashes aromatic bitters
  • large ice cube

Directions: First, combine aromatic bitters, Grand Marnier®, and, finally, whiskey in an old fashioned glass. Add large ice cube and stir until cold and well incorporated. Garnish surface of liquid with orange twist, expressing oils over glass rim.

Grand Old Fashioned



  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) Cognac
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) Cointreau or other Triple Sec orange liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup ice

Preparation: Spread superfine sugar on small plate. Rub lemon wedge halfway around rim of chilled martini or coupe glass. Dip moistened side of glass in sugar to lightly coat outside rim of glass. Set aside. In cocktail shaker, combine Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice. Add ice and shake vigorously until well chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into prepared martini or coupe glass and serve.



Years ago, in Chicago, I dropped into a little Italian restaurant downtown that featured Steak Diane. I cannot remember the name of the place or exact location to save my life but it was most definitely the best I’ve ever had and it has stayed in my subconscious all this time. Anyway, I found this recipe online with similar ingredients (at least to my memory and palate) and I will try it someday soon…

Steak Diane


  • 1 1-1/2-lb. flank steak
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. peanut or vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbs. finely chopped shallot
  • 3 Tbs. medium sherry, such as amontillado
  • 2 Tbs. Cognac
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbs. lower-salt chicken broth
  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, more to taste

Preparation instructions can be found online on Fine Cooking.

Steak Diane


And for those who think Cognac is best enjoyed neat (with a fine cigar, of course), Esquire has plenty of other suggestions (i.e. mushrooms, cheese, seafood, etc.) in their What to Eat When You Drink Cognac article.

To learn more about Cognac, read these online articles: Cognac 101 and The Guide to Finding Great Cognac.





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Dani Lew

DaniLew is a podcaster and a retired nomad who loves to slow travel around the world and share her travel stories and personal photography.The Slow Traveling Soul Sister podcast is all about me and my travels around the world for the last 40 years as a solo black woman, My motto: travel nourishes the soul and broadens the mind, but solo travel frees our imagination and builds our Confidence. #slowtravelingsoulsister #GoSeeDoBe

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