Friday June 4th is Cognac Day, and I’m commemorating this special day by recognizing both Cognac, the drink and Cognac, the town, because even though I’m an alcohol lightweight I was lucky enough to visit the town of Cognac in France the summer before the pandemic hit. Lying some 400km southwest of Paris, the town of Cognac is situated in the Charente region which, apart from its prestige as the home of the famous brandies such as Hennessy, Saint Remy and Martell, is also a stop in the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route and the training grounds for the French Air Force.
I made my first visit to the Charente region when I was sixteen. I went to be a fille au pair for four families on a gentleman’s farm and learned to hand milk a cow the old-fashion way. The farmer got a good laugh watching me knead and squeeze every morning at 4am but it was serious business for me, right the way through collecting the milk in the tote and serving it up for the morning chocolat au lait for the croissant-dunking pleasure of thirteen kids!
The farmer also made cream for the adults who then went on to make cocktails like Alexander composed of cognac, crème de cacao and cream. Although I have milk intolerance in addition to the inability to metabolize alcohol (sigh) I can tell you that the concoction of cognac and fresh cream and coffee liqueur the bohemian families let me taste was something quite worth the risk. And so here are three more cognac cocktails for those of you with a good liqueur-intake constitution.
Between the Sheets: white rum, cognac, triple sec and lemon juice
Stinger: cognac, crème de menthe
French Connection: Gene Hackman’s cognac and Amaretto liqueur
They do sound delicious so enjoy the drinks on my behalf if you can, or plan for a highly recommended visit to the Charente region of France. If you’ve had both vaccines, there’s no quarantine to get in as of today!