Nicole Lebedevitch of Ash’Kara says cognac cocktails are making a comeback.

Amber beverage in a coupe glass on white background
The Ce Soir makes good use of cognac. / Courtesy of The Educated Barfly;

Tequila sales are coming on strong, but cognac’s are even better. According to Nielsen in early August, cognac sales rose year over year by 67 percent, compared to tequila’s 64.3 percent. This news makes Nicole Lebedevitch of Ash’Kara smile.

“Cognac is a go-to for me when mixing cocktails,” she says. “Like other brown spirits, cognac carries over beautiful confection notes of vanilla, caramel, and ginger from its time spent in barrel. It also has complex fruit notes from the nature of it being made from grapes. Sipped neat, its high acidity and floral aromas tend to satisfy the Scotch drinker as well as the American whiskey drinker. And when mixed well, cognac can often fool a whiskey drinker as to the spirit. Cognac brings softness and elegance to Manhattan and Old Fashioned variations and mixes beautifully with citrus, as we see in French 75 variations and Sidecars.

“In a cocktail I created in 2010 called the Ce Soir, cognac sings. [The Ce Soir drinks] almost like a Sazerac, with the bitters and texture one who is accustomed to drinking Manhattans would find incredibly pleasurable. I use Pierre Ferrand 1840 for this cocktail as it is slightly higher in alcohol than most cognacs, which allows it to take on the bold flavors of the Cynar and chartreuse for a rich texture and long finish.”

Ce Soir:

  • 2 ounces Pierre Ferrand 1840
  • ¾ ounce Cynar
  • ½ ounce yellow chartreuse
  • dash of Regans’ Orange Bitters
  • dash of Angostura bitters
  • lemon oil

Combine all ingredients, except lemon oil, over ice and stir to dilution. Strain into a chilled double old fashioned glass and garnish within and out with lemon oil.

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