Most people think drinking Cognac is reserved for the likes of rappers and billionaires exclusively. But it turns out that there is plenty of affordable and delicious Cognac on the market. Known as a premium spirit, Cognac is surrounded by an air of exclusion. But with the wide range of approachable bottles on shelves these days, there’s no reason not to include it into your cocktail repertoire. You too can ball just as hard as Biggie, Kanye, and Lil' Wayne… actually, maybe don't ball that hard.
For the curious, Cognac is a grape-based brandy, (which means spirit distilled from wine) from within the region of Cognac, France. Each bottle has letters that denote how long a particular Cognac was aged before being bottled. VS stands for "very special," a designation that requires a minimum of two years oak-aging before being bottled; VSOP stands for "very special old pale," and requires four years oak-aging; and XO -- "extra old" -- must be aged for a minimum of six years. Most Cognacs from all of the categories are aged way passed their minimums, allowing them to take on complex flavors and aromas.
When it comes to cocktails, even the less expensive brands -- Paul Beau, Pierre Ferrand, Pierre Croizet, and Bache-Gabrielsen among them -- offer a chance to ball without the bling. And all it takes is three ingredients. Here are the best ultra-simple Cognac cocktails.