Best Cognac for Cocktails

Cognac is a versatile spirit that can be used for sipping, mixing, or cooking. We’ve covered cooking and sipping in recent blog posts. Check out: Best Ways to Drink Cognac and Best Brandy for Your Budget: Brandy for Cooking, Sipping, Mixing, and Gifting. Today we are going to talk about mixing your Cognac. How do you pick out a good Cognac for mixing in cocktails? What do you look for, and which ones are best?

You will notice that many excellent cocktail recipes involving cognac are French in name and style. That’s no accident! Cognac is a very specific French brandy. So it only makes sense that the French have had longer to work their magic in developing recipes that really bring out the flavors of the Cognac.

The cost of Cognac has often kept it out of cocktails. Cognacs are typically quite expensive. A 750 ml bottle of even lower-end cognac is priced much higher than most ryes or bourbons.  So, when finding a bottle of Cognac that’s right for mixing, be prepared to pay more than, say, an average bottle of vodka.

In this article, you’ll find recommendations for picking out a Cognac, our top picks, and a few recipes to try as well!

Choose a Cognac that has a flavor punch!

In general, you want to choose a Cognac that isn’t too old. Choose a “young” Cognac. Why is this? An older Cognac is sophisticated and also quite expensive—don’t waste the taste and money by mixing it up with other ingredients. With this in mind, you’ll want to look for Cognacs that say “VS” or “VSOP.”

VS stands for “Very Special.” VS Cognacs include spirits that are a minimum of 2 years old.

VSOP stands for “Very Superior Old Pale.” VSOP Cognacs spirits are aged for a minimum of 4 years.

XO stands for “Extra Old.” These have been aged for a minimum of 6 years.

There are several Cognac makers that are developing spirits that are specifically for mixing. Hine and Pierre Ferrand are two manufacturers that are available and are developed for value and intent for mixing.

Next, you want to pick out a Cognac that isn’t too subtle. After all, you’re going to be mixing it with other ingredients. So you want a spirit that has a pretty significant flavor profile that will make it through the other flavors. H by Hine is an example of a Cognac that is developed to be balanced and bright, rather than “too smooth” or subtle. It was developed to intermingle with other mixers, whether they are citrus, liqueurs, or other alcoholic spirits.

Furthermore, you might want to avoid Cognacs that are too sweet. That’s because, typically, the ingredients that you are adding bring their own sweetness to the mix. Some Cognacs have added sugars, so read the ingredients before you make your purchase.

Additionally, you may want to avoid Cognacs that are too oaky simply because the woodsy flavor doesn’t always play well with others. (To this point, you might want to avoid brands that have added Boise, which is an oak extract.)

Here’s a hot tip if you tend to shop for a bottle based entirely on its appearance. Instead, look for a bottle that’s priced fairly low, and that is shaped in a pretty standard square shape. The reason for this is interesting. Many Cognacs come in fancily shaped bottles that are meant to be showcased on the top shelf of a bar. It’s an advertising trick that many manufacturers have latched on to, to ensure that their bottles aren’t tucked in the back of a shelf. The stranger the shape, the more apt a bottle is to be displayed. These strangely-shaped bottles aren’t cheap to produce, so it’s the expensive spirits that get to be inside.

On the flip side, a spirit that’s in a pretty boring or standard bottle is more likely to be stored in a bartender’s wall shelf. Easy to store, easy in the hand….and easy for mixing, too. These spirits are usually a little cheaper and are meant for mixology. Hence, if you are shopping for a bottle of cognac knowing that you want to mix it, look for a commonly-shaped bottle. 

What are the best Cognacs for mixing?

The following picks make our list of the best Cognacs to try for mixing:

H by Hine, VSOP

$40 USD

This brandy smells flowery and tastes fruity, with a burst of vanilla. It was made specifically for mixing. Try it with a dash of cold tonic, cider, or ginger ale that’s garnished with a twist of lime, cucumber, or rosemary.


Pierre Ferrand Reserve Cognac

$75 USD

This is a more woodsy Cognac than the H by Hine. This spirit is going to have more spices and apples, and the flavor profile is going to remind you of walnuts and vanilla, with an undertone of licorice. You might look to pair this Cognac with cherry or amaretto flavors, citrus, apples, or flowers. Here are a few cocktail ideas using this particular bottle.

Pierre Ferrand Reserve Cognac

Merlet Brothers Blend, VSOP

$62 USD

This is a huge award-winner! This spirit has notes of apricot and quince, white flowers, cinnamon, and vanilla, and the taste profile is similar. You’ll get peach and apricot pretty noticeably with this one. For a cocktail, this selection will play well in a Sidecar or Orchard and Vine.

Merlet Brothers Blend

Guillon-Painturaud VSOP

$43 USD

This spirit is going to grab you with its hints of apple, orange, pears, and apple. Fruit trees abound! Sherry pairs wonderfully with this Cognac. Try a Les Verts Monts cocktail or a Hotel du Pont using this Cognac. Don’t forget to decant this one.

Guillon Painturaud VSOP

Martell Blue Swift VSOP


This Cognac features the usual caramelized pears and vanilla, but this time with some coconut thrown in for a feature. Candied fruits and plums will present themselves at first taste. The Cognac finishes a bit oaky, thanks to the aging process in Kentucky bourbon barrels. This is an excellent choice for a Sazerac cocktail or a mint julep.

Martel Blue Swift VSOP

Best flavored Cognac for cocktails

Certain Cognacs have a flavor profile that’s unique, such as apple, peach, or grape. These Cognacs might go very well in certain recipes as compared to generic or blended Cognacs. Some you might want to seek out include:

·         Best Apple-Flavored Cognac: Jacques Cardin Apple Flavored Cognac VSOP. Try this Cognac in a Za Za Zoom cocktail.

·         Best Peach-Flavored Cognac: Twenty Grand Peached Infused Cognac. (Okay, this is a little bit of a trick, because it’s actually vodka that’s infused with Cognac.) Try this as a cocktail with ginger beer and a twist of lime.

·         Best Citrus-Forward Cognac: Martell Noblige Cognac. Try a Toasted Lemon cocktail with this choice.

Here are some excellent cocktails featuring Cognac.

Check out these different cocktails featuring Cognac as the main ingredient.

Two-Tailed Cuyler

You will need:

·         1.5 oz. Remy Martin 1738 Accord Royal Cognac

·         0.5 oz. Cointreau

·         0.5 oz. Bianco Vermouth

·         0.25 oz. Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie

·         1 dash of allspice dram

·         1 large, clear ice cube

·         1 lemon twist, for garnish

Two-Tailed Cuyler Ingredients

Add all ingredients to a glass and stir. Pour over a large ice cube in a cocktail glass. Express lemon oils over the drink and use the lemon peel as garnish.

Orchard and Vine

You will need:

·         2 oz. Cognac

·         0.5 oz. Merlet Crème de Poire

·         1 dash Angostura bitters

·         1 dash orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir to chill. Strain over 1 large ice cube and garnish.

For more recipes, check out this blog!

Cognacs are great for mixing in a cocktail.

Choosing a Cognac as an ingredient in a cocktail is not always easy because of the cost. However, there are more manufacturers that are keeping cocktails in mind when making their spirits. The H by Hine is an excellent overall choice for Cognac-centric cocktails. Otherwise, keep the flavor profile in mind when choosing a bottle to be compatible with your favorite recipe.