Listen to Episode 41: Cognac Pt. 3″
We’re now in the final episode of our three-part Cognac series on the Bit by a Fox Podcast. If you’ve been following along here, my social media or the podcast, you know that I visited the Cognac region in the Southwest of France at the beginning of harvest season last month.
It was as amazing as that all sounds! I cannot recommend going to this part of the world at this exact time of year ENOUGH. I was able to visit a variety of Cognac houses, I ate my weight in delicious French food and drank some of the finest brandies in the world. So, yeah it was pretty much a win. In this week’s episode I again sit down with two Cognac houses, both with a rich heritage and British DNA but again, very different from one another.
Hardy Cognac the “Haute Couture of Cognac” has a decidedly feminine flair.
The packaging is known for its graceful elegance with some high end expressions bottled in Lalique crystal carafes and delivered in a hat box style with purse handle.
Bright magentas and violets color their branding but even the juice inside the bottles is designed with a female palate in mind, according to Maison Hardy’s 5th generation cognac producer and international brand ambassador, Benedicte Hardy.
To visit with Benedicte at her incredibly stylish headquarters and to taste through the legendary vintages is to truly understand the power of the feminine in Hardy Cognac.
Benedicte, herself is fantastically chic She greeted us with her perfectly coiffed hair, Dior pink lipstick, an elegant pantsuit & kitten heels. She was warm and welcoming but as she led us through production and a tasting with cellar master Mickael Bouilly we got to see that fierce boss lady there as well. By the end of our visit, each one of us had major girl crushes on Benedicte Hardy for life.
While both Cognac houses featured this week have British origins, it is Hine Cognac that continues to maintain strong ties to its British past.
With a portion of their Cognac aged in the UK, and as of 1962, the only house that supplies Cognac to the Queen of England, they are considered a British house in France. Hine is particularly known for their vintage Cognacs and their distinctive style.
Their contemporary packaging even has a British flair. The stag logo, bold graphics, and clean, modern design keeps this 255 year old Cognac house young and fresh.
Per Even Allaire, Director of International Sales for Hine Cognac, led us on a tour of their cellars dating back before Cognac even – to the 1500s and tasted us on some truly remarkable Cognacs. He also sat down with me to discuss Hine Cognac’s distinctive approach.
For this week’s cocktail recipe I thought I’d include a simple Cognac based drink that I ended up falling in love with on my visit. It is also a local favorite – Cognac & Tonic.
Cognac & Tonic
2 oz Cognac
4 oz Tonic Water
In a Highball glass filled with ice, stir in ingredients and squeeze the lemon wedge and drop in the glass.
Listen to Episode 40: Cognac Pt. 2″
For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast we are continuing on to Part 2 of our Cognac series.
Last month, I had the great honor of visiting the Cognac region in the Southwest of France at the very start of harvest season. It was truly a magical time to be there. That familiar shift from summer to fall was a palpable feeling, the light was especially golden in the vineyards, and the grapes were heavy with juice. One could really sense that this was first and foremost a wine region. And to truly understand Cognac, you need to understand wine. Over the course of the week, I was able to visit a variety of Cognac houses and sit down with cellar masters, family distillers and representatives to discuss what makes their approach just a little different from the next house. The beauty of this visit was the diversity in how each Maison approached their process. I loved how varied each one was from one another. But the common thread with all of those I spoke to and visited was the passion behind the process.
In this week’s episode I sit down with two very different Cognac houses. One house, in the heart of the Grand Champagne region, is rooted in tradition, and the other is a young brand that is shaking up the category with some modern techniques.
My first guest is Patrice Piveteau, deputy general manager and cellar master at Cognac Frapin.
The Frapin family has been in the heart of the Grande Champagne region in the SW France since the middle ages first as wine growers and then distillers of Cognac. They’ve continued this tradition for 20 generations. They are considered a smaller house but have the unusual good fortune of owning all of their vineyards over 200 hectares or Ugni blanc grape vines. After a tour of the vineyards A cellar whose framework was created by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame and a tasting of their incredibly varied line up. It was a privilege to sit down with Patrice, one of the most well regarded cellar masters in the region.
My guest this week is also winemaker, distiller and Bourgoin Cognac family member, Frédéric Bourgoin.
The Bourgoin family has been wine growers servicing the cognac industry since 1930. Frederic’s great-grandfather was a grape-grower, who worked with many of the most highly regarded Cognac houses in the region. But it wasn’t until recently that they’ve decided to produce their own brand. Their approach is especially connected to the family land, producing organic grapes and employing biodynamic techniques. Minimal intervention and zero chemical interference is key their grape to glass philosophy. They’ve already started to gain a cult following with their modern packaging and hyper hand-crafted approach.
This week’s cocktail recipe is the classic French 75 made with Cognac:
1 oz cognac
1/4 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
4-5 oz champagne
Pour cognac, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a shaker filled with ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a very cold Champagne glass, top with bubbly, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Listen to Episode 39: Cognac Pt. 1″
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve teased about this series of episodes about Cognac. Last week, we spoke about a new American Brandy and how the entire category is actually having a resurgence in popularity and a real moment in cocktail culture. We touched on the history a bit. It’s a spirit created by distilling wine, and it dates back to the beginning of distillation. But it was mostly in the context of brandy in America. We all know the most famous brandy, the benchmark to which we have looked to for generations is Cognac – The grandaddy of brandies, that oh so elegant spirit named after a small town in Western France and produced for centuries.
I was lucky enough to visit the region recently with the BNIC – the professional organization behind Cognac. The goal was to expose us to as many varied Cognac houses as possible, to soak in the region, learn about the history, techniques and traditions. And we did. It was incredible and overwhelming and has made for a very difficult editing process for this podcast. Since this is such a huge subject, I thought it best to have a series devoted to all things Cognac.
Over the course of my visit, I was able to sit down with a cellar master in the center of Grand Champagne who oversees a cognac house for a family in its 21st generation, I spoke with a young first generation producer of experimental Cognacs whose father and grandfather farmed grapes for other houses for years, and I met with the house of Cognac that services the Queen of England.
In this first episode, we meet two gentleman. First up is David Boileau, a Cognac educator and ambassador for the BNIC since 2006. We star with some basic Cognac 101, the phylloxera infestation that nearly destroyed the wine and Cognac industry, and the signature cocktail of the town of Cognac…
My second guest is Jacques Blanc who is the house historian and tour guide of Maison Ferrand of Pierre Ferrand Cognac. This was our first Cognac house that we visited and toured and it made for a great welcome to the region. We talked about Pierre Ferrand’s history of experimentation, Dry and Wet Cellar aging, and how he was able to recover the lost history of the Ferrand family.
This week’s featured cocktail is the signature drink of Cognac:
1.5 ounces Cognac VSOP
2 ounces lemon-lime soda
4 thin slices fresh ginger
1 lime peel
1 long piece cucumber
Put lime peel and ginger into glass, pour in 3/4 oz Cognac, lightly muddle. Fill half the glass with ice, and stir. Pour in the remaining Cognac. Top off with lemon-lime soda and garnish with cucumber, stir well and enjoy
It’s finally here, you guys. It’s FALL! I think we can all agree, no matter where you live in the world, FALL IS THE BEST. Even Los Angeles is feeling the cooler nights, spice and woodsmoke in the air, and the cozy factor is turnt UP. It may not be full on sweater weather here, but my fave ponchos are in full rotation.
When I moved from New York to Los Angeles a few years ago, I realized how much of a seasonal drinker I was. Relocating to a place that is sunny all year round had me craving lighter, sparkling, lower alcohol concoctions more and more. My first year in La La Land also had me really missing the dramatic Autumnal feelzzz the northeast is so famous for. But by the next year I started to detect the seasonal shifts that I hadn’t when I first got here. And my palate adapted as well.
What I love about this Argentine Yerba Mate Harvest Spritz that I created especially for the season, is that it is a combination of all that. My initial leanings towards lighter, sparkling and lower alcohol drinks when I first moved here, along with my cravings for all things autumn.
The smokiness of the Argentine Yerba Mate tea, along with the autumnal sweetness of the apricot brandy and maple syrup is complemented by a seasonal punch of hard apple cider. It really is sparkling harvest in a glass.
The addition of Argentine Yerba Mate tea adds an earthiness and slightly tannic quality to the overall flavor as well as a little kick of caffeine – something we all could use a little more of during these darker days! Not to mention, this tea native to South America contains a boost of antioxidants (more than green tea!) and a slew of other health benefits like vitamins and minerals that are extremely beneficial during the onslaught of flu season! You can find Argentine Yerba Mate brands in specialty tea stores and in select Whole Foods Markets across the U.S. You can also purchase Argentine Yerba Mate on Amazon.com.
Instead of cozying up with a hot cup of tea, how about mixing up this easy fall sparkler, throw on a poncho, and celebrate this most beautiful, fleeting time of year!
Argentine Yerba Mate Harvest Spritz – served over ice
2 oz Argentine Yerba Mate Tea, cooled
1 oz Apricot Brandy
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Maple Syrup
Dry Sparkling Hard Apple Cider
Garnish: apple wedge
In an ice-filled shaker, add the cooled Yerba Mate, apricot brandy, lemon juice and maple syrup. Shake well until chilled. Strain into a highball or mason jar filled with ice. Top with dry sparkling hard cider and stir. Garnish with apple wedge.
This post was sponsored by National Institution for Argentine Yerba Mate
Listen to Episode 38: Bertoux Brandy with Jeff Bell
Brandy is having a moment. Well, it’s had many moments over the years but it’s definitely having a moment again.
Brandy, a spirit created by distilling wine, dates back to the beginning of distillation. It also plays a pivotal role in American history. It was once a fundamental part of daily life during the Colonial era, was extremely popular into the 18th and 19th Centuries, and during the The Golden Age of cocktails was THE go-to spirit for crafty libations. The idea of aging whiskies in America was even inspired by brandy. The very first Bourbon in the states was put into charred oak barrels to mimic the taste the brandies coming out of France. But then Prohibition came along and the brandy industry was nearly all but destroyed in the states. And even when this current golden age of cocktails rose up, and out of favor spirits were suddenly in vogue again, it failed to totally bring brandy back to its original heyday. But with American consumption of Cognac on the rise, continued interest in classic craft cocktails, and brandy distilleries once again dotting our country, brandy is having a moment.
On the Bit by a Fox Podcast this week, our guest is veteran bartender Jeff Bell from legendary drinking den PDT in New York City. Jeff is the consulting master blender of an exciting new American born brandy called BERTOUX Brandy. It recently launched in New York and here in California where I caught up with Jeff at their recent launch party. Coming off of my visit to Cognac, this was great timing to introduce you listeners to all things brandy and prep for our Cognac series coming up soon.
This week’s featured cocktail is a Sidecar with specs from Jeff Bell
Bertoux Brandy Sidecar
1.5 oz of Bertoux Brandy
3/4 oz of Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Simple syrup
lemon wedge, granulated white sugar
To sugar a rim on a coupe glass, swipe a lemon wedge around the top edge of the glass and then dip into a sugar filled saucer to coat the rim with sugar. Place all cocktail ingredients into an ice-filled shaker and shake until well chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass with sugared rim.
Listen to Episode 37: Nightcap with Kara Newman”
This week’s podcast guest has been a long time coming – New York-based spirits and cocktail writer, Kara Newman. Kara is the Spirits Editor for Wine Enthusiast and is the author of multiple cocktail books including the forthcoming little gem: Nightcap: More than 40 Cocktails to Close Out Any Evening – available October 16th.
I caught up with Kara at the recent BevCon drinks conference here in LA – her very first visit to LA! – and we might have indulged in a few nightcaps of our own at my place in the middle of the day. Whoops!
This week’s featured cocktail is the Open & Shut. This is a Scaffa cocktail, a room-temperature nightcap, shared by Chicago bartender Julia Momose in Kara Newman’s Nightcap: More than 40 Cocktails to Close Out Any Evening.
Open & Shut
1 1/2 oz Amaro Lucano
1/2 oz of Cognac
Combine Amaro and Cognac in a rocks glass with no ice, and stir. Garnish is optional, a lemon or orange peel is nice. In Julia Momose’s words: “Simply build in the glass, retire to bed, sip, and ease yourself into slumber.”
Listen to Episode 36: Peruvian Pisco with Romina Scheufle”
Pisco. What exactly is this South American spirit that has been all abuzz in the cocktail world in recent years? Its history goes back to the 16th century, but it’s still largely undiscovered by the average American consumer. Other than the Pisco Sour, many wouldn’t know how to order it, what to look for when purchasing it or how to properly drink it. We’ve discussed Pisco before and we’ve even had some recipes featuring Capurro Pisco on this very blog. But for this week’s Bit by a Fox podcast, we do a little deep dive into the subject with some major help from a friend…
This week’s guest, pisco expert Romina Scheufele, helps us to understand why this spirit is so special. Her family has been in the pisco making business for 5 generations, over 100 years; She is President & CEO at Capurro Pisco, her family’s artisan pisco from Peru – so she may know a little something about this Peruvian brandy.
For this week’s episode, we decided to feature one of the most popular cocktails in Peru, the Chilcano,
In an ice-filled highball glass add 2 Oz. pisco, top with ginger ale, squeeze some fresh lime juice, give it a stir and enjoy!
Listen to Episode 35: Maker’s Mark with Rob Samuels”
I’ve written quite a bit over the years about Kentucky bourbon brand Maker’s Mark, and created many a cocktail recipe with their whisky on this very blog. I’ve even had the opportunity to visit the distillery in Loretto, Kentucky, walk the storied Maker’s Mark campus, and meet the family behind it all. It’s hard to think of a time before this historic bourbon made its mark on America and the world.
Maker’s Mark is so iconic with its squared bottle dipped in red wax and that consistently familiar flavor profile; It is recognized and beloved the world over. Apparently, not without a shaky start.
According to Rob Samuels, who currently runs the company, it took a good 30 years for the billion dollar brand to turn a profit.
He should know. His grandparents (Bill Samuels and Margie, pictured below) started Maker’s Mark in the 1950s when American whiskey was at an all time low, his father Bill Samuels Jr. helped to usher in this country’s bourbon boom, and for the last 8 years, Rob has been leading the brand into the next generation as COO.
For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast, I caught up with Rob (pictured below with a Bit by a Fox Podcast pin!) at the recent BevCon conference here in LA and he gave us the super insiders take to all things Maker’s Mark, the Samuels Family and Kentucky bourbon.
This week’s featured cocktail is the signature drink for Kentucky horse race institution, Keeneland.
1 1/4 oz Maker’s Mark
splash Orange liqueur
splash Ginger ale
splash Fresh squeezed orange juice
Rocks glass and ice
Fill rocks glass with ice, add the bourbon, orange liqueur and fresh orange juice, top with ginger ale, give it a stir and garnish with an orange wedge.
Listen to Episode 34: Amaro Liqueur with Brad Thomas Parsons
Amaro, the Italian bitter liqueur, has been used as a digestive in Italy and produced for hundreds of years, and has had a resurgence due to the craft cocktail revival. And yet, outside of Italy and this niche-y industry, the Amaro category is still fairly unknown, and often misunderstood. To be fair, the category can be confusing to even seasoned spirits experts. James Beard award winning author and spirits & bitters expert Brad Thomas Parsons to the rescue!
In our deep dive into all things Amaro in this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast, we discuss what exactly makes an Italian bitter liqueur an Amaro, and whether or not Campari, Fernet Branca or Jagermeister fall under that umbrella.
This week’s featured cocktail recipe is the Negroni Sbagliato from BT Parson’s book – Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. lightly sparkling wine
Garnish: orange slice or peel
Combine vermouth and Campari in an ice-filled rocks glass. Top with sparkling wine, stir to combine and garnish.
Author and cocktail photos: Ed Anderson
Listen to Episode 33: Sother Teague “I’m Just Here For the Drinks”
After a two week break on the Bit by a Fox Podcast, we are coming back in with a bang! Our guest this week is Sother Teague – a greatly admired veteran barman, teacher, and cocktail expert. He is the Beverage Director at the New York bitters and amaro haven Amor y Amargo, Wine Enthusiast’s Mixologist of the Year in 2017, co-host of the ‘Speakeasy’ podcast on Heritage Radio Network…and he’s just added published author to his long list of accomplishments.
His first book I’m Just Here For the Drinks: A Guide to Spirits, Drinking and More Than 100 Extraordinary Cocktails is coming in hot just this week. We talked about how this book came to be, his circuitous road from the being a chef to getting behind the stick, and ultimately knocking it out of the park at every turn.
This week’s featured cocktail recipe is a Negroni variation from Sother’s book I’m Just Here For the Drinks:
1.5 oz London Dry Gin
.75 Amaro Montenegro
2 dashes of Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters
Stir all the ingredients over ice until well chilled. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange twist.