The Invasion of the Cogniac Maniacs

I have to begin this post with an admission: I stole (or rather, borrowed) the phrase “Cognac Maniac” from the BNIC, who organized this lovely trip to Cognac.  You can join the Cognac Maniacs Facebook page here.

Now that I’ve cleared the air, here’s a little overview of my trip thus far:

What do you get when you blend the best sommeliers, journalists, and mixologists from countries like England, Germany, Austria, and the U.S.?  Perhaps something equivalent to an X.O. Cognac?  Close, anyways.

This 4-day experience officially entitled the “International Cognac Summit (ICS)” is in its 4th year now.  Each year, the groups are put to work and assigned an official task: The first year it was to create the signature “Summit Cocktail”…the second year it was to create the official Cognac Aroma Wheel…

This year, our task is to “Measure Pleasure.”  Now, this may sound very unattainable and a tad on the controversial side, but according to our leaders, it can be done.  To prove it, we were each given small “Pleasure Indicators” or “Cognaculators”: small remote control devices in which we can press numbers from 0 to 10 to indicate our pleasure level.  Needless to say, we’ve been amusing ourselves with the innumerable innuendos that come along with a device such as this.  But in all reality, it’s a very interesting concept that we are all on board with.

Our first official day was filled with tasting, visiting, and dining.  Our morning began with an introduction into the Cognac market (Did you know that there is the equivalent of 1.2 billion bottles of stock in Cognac, or that 5 bottles of Cognac are consumed per second in the entire world?  I sure didn’t.)

Next up was a presentation by Dr. Luc Lurton, the head of research at the BNIC.  We learned that Cognac has several hundred aroma compounds that all come from either the grapes, the fermentation process, distillation, or the wood casks.

The German spirits superstar Jurgen Deibel then introduced our little pleasure remote controls that we will be carrying around with us for the duration of the trip.  It really is a cool concept – the information collected from these remotes get transported to a special computer program that computes and analyzes the date, forming a graph with the results.  Mind-blowing.

Later on we had the pleasure of visiting the Cognac Frapin distilery situated in the heart of the vineyards.  I wish I had the photos uploaded at this point – but there’s just not time.  Please check back in a few days to see all the photos.

A highlight was hearing Max Cointreau, a living legend in the spirits business, chat about his cognac and the importance of our visit to his distillery.  Yes, Max Cointreau as in THE Cointreau.  His family joined forces with the Remy Martin family to create the powerhouse that is Remy Cointreau.

We toured the facilities, which seem as genuine and true as they get.  Lunch was a veritable cornucopia of cured meats, smoked salmon, fois gras, breads, and cheeses.  And, of course, Cognac.  Mind you, this meal was served entirely in the authentic Chateau Fontpinot on the Cognac Frapin property.

I think I can speak for the rest of the group and say…

Speechless…we were all speechless.

Parts 2 & 3, along with some nifty pics (and perhaps a video or two) of the trip, are still to come in the next few days — so stay tuned!


Cocktails featured on PIX 11


The Mionetto Merry Berry Cocktail


4 parts Mionetto Prosecco Brut DOC

1 part Pama Pomegranate Liqueur

Slice of lime

Serve over ice

Cranberry-Spiced Sparkler (served at Bookmarks Lounge, NYC)

8 cranberries

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice agave nectar*

splash of fresh lemon juice

3 oz. Mionetto Prosecco Brut

Directions: In a mixing glass, muddle the cranberries in the pie spice agave nectar and lemon juice.  Then add the prosecco and gently fold.  Strain into a champagne flute and top with additional prosecco.

Garnish: 3 floating cranberries

*Pumpkin pie spice agave nectar – for every 1 cup of agave nectar, add 1 tsp. of store-bought pumpkin pie spice and stir to incorporate.

Apple-Cinnamon Sparkler (pitcher version – great for groups) (served at Bookmarks Lounge, NYC)

In a pitcher, add the following:

1/2 cup cinnamon syrup*

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup apple cider

2 cups Mionetto Prosecco Brut

Stir briefly with ice and serve immediately.

Garnish with sliced apples and lemons

*cinnamon syrup – combine 1 cup of sugar in the raw and 1 cup of water and dissolve sugar over heat – then add 2 cinnamon sticks and simmer for 15 mins.  Chill and serve.

Fox & Friends Boxing Day & New Year’s Cocktails

Happy Holidays to all!

Here are the recipes I mixed up on “Fox & Friends” on Sun, Dec. 26th – bright and early at 7:30am!

FOX & FRIENDS Segment 12/26/10

Boxing Day Leftover Martini

2 oz. Bombay Sapphire gin

3/4 oz. carrot juice

1/2 oz. honey syrup

1/2 oz. pineapple juice

2 sage leaves

Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a sage leaf.


2011 Heaven

1 1/2 oz. Dewars 12

1/2 oz. orange liqueur

1/2 oz. clove syrup

1/2 oz. coffee liqueur

Shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.  Garnish with a long orange peel.


Martini Poinsettia Punch

2 1/2 cups Martini Asti Sparkling Wine

2 cups Martini Rosato

1 1/2 cup POM Pomegranate juice

3/4 cup Fever Tree Ginger Beer

3/4 cup Fresh lemon juice

Maple Syrup to taste

Directions: Combine all ingredients into a punch bowl with block ice and stir to chill and dilute.   Add several lemon wheels and star anise to the punch bowl.  Ladle out into punch glasses.


A New Post!

Yes, we know, it’s been a while. Life has gotten in the way, my friends.

But it’s the holidays! And we here at The Cocktail Guru wish you a very happy holiday and a happy and healthy New Year. Please don’t forget to drink responsibly!

For some holiday cocktails, check out the ones below that I made on this past Sunday’s Weekend Today in NY on NBC-4. The ladies at WNBC are all about libations at 7am – and who can blame ’em, really…

You can check it out live by clicking this link here:

Winter Wonderland
2 oz. Russian Standard Vodka
3/4 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 oz. Trader Tiki’s Falernum syrup
Directions: Shake all ingredients very well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish: shaved orange peel and a dusting of confectioners sugar

Dickensian New York
1 1/2 oz. Dried fig-infused Flor de Cana Rum
1/2 oz. Fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. agave nectar
3 dashes Maple Bitters
Directions: Shake ingredients very well with ice and strain over ice into a rocks glass.
Garnish: slice of dried fig

**to make dried fig-infused Flor de Cana: Place 10 dried figs (sliced down the center) in an air-tight jar, along with 1 bottle of Flor de Cana 7 yr old rum. Allow to infuse for 5 days. Remove figs and enjoy.

Pitcher Drinks:

Naughty Clementine
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup freshly squeezed clementine juice
1/2 cup Lucid Absinthe
1/2 cup Combier orange liqueur
1 cup Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon
Directions: Blend first 3 ingredients in a blender. Then add to pitcher, along with other ingredients. Stir well and add ice approx. 15 minutes before serving to chill and dilute.
Serve in tumblers with ice.
Garnish: floating clementine slice


Hey Friends – I’m being featured on TeachStreet, a most excellent site geared towards education across the country.   Check it out:

Find online and local Bartending Schools
Bartending Schools | Add your site

Some More Fall Cocktails

For your enjoyment and pleasure:
Almond Tea Toddy (served at Bookmarks Lounge, NYC)

1 oz Plymouth Gin

1/2 oz Combier orange liqueur

1/2 oz almond syrup

3 oz hot tea (choice of chai or spiced orange)

Directions: Add to mug and stir.  Add teabag and allow 2 mins to steep.

“Dean” Martinez (served at The Empire Room, NYC)

1 3/4 oz. Hayman’s Old Tom Gin

1/2 oz. Carpano Antica Formula

1/4 oz. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

dash chocolate mole bitters

Directions: Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish: SHAVED candied orange peel**

**to make this, combine shaved orange peel w/ white sugar ahead of time.**

Candied Apple Martini (served at The Campbell Apartment, NYC)

1 oz. Plymouth Gin

1/2 oz. Grand Marnier

1/4 oz. Trader Tiki’s Cinnamon syrup

1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice

3/4 oz. apple cider

Directions: Shake all ingredients very well and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish:  red apple slice

Am I Lazy?

Today I ask the question, “Am I lazy if this blog post is just a link to a story on my other blog?”  I’ve come up with the perfect answer:  No!

So without further adieu, I implore you to click on the link below and visit my new website, and read this informative blog post.

You like Manhattans, right?  Thought so.

The Wedding Cocktail Design Blog

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