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Cognac, the new hip drink

Cognac makers hope to break the drink’s staid image and woo youngsters in India.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2010 20:24 IST
Girija Duggal

Would you order cognac — traditionally seen as a winter warmer or an after-dinner peg for the more mature crowd — at a nightclub? Or mix it with ginger ale and enjoy it as a summertime cocktail? If cognac makers have their way, it could be the next hip drink. Their plan — to jazz up its image by introducing new ways of consuming it.

Agni, at The Park hotel, introduced a Fussini cognac test tube shot a month and a half back. “They’re selling like hot cakes… 15 shots a night on average,” says Debjeet Banerjee, associate F&B director at the hotel. Considering each 30 ml shot costs Rs 1,800, that’s no mean feat. Remy Martin recently held a cognac cocktail event. “People were surprised it could be drunk in various ways,” says Rukn Luthra, MD, Rémy Martin Cointreau, India sub-continent. The company plans to hold more training sessions for F&B staff and consumers. “Youngsters don’t sit down after dinner for cigar and cognac; they want to party… the best way to bring them to enjoy cognac is through cocktails,” says Arnaud Mirey of Moët Hennessy.

In August, the company will launch an initiative called Hennessy Artistry - The Art of Mixing, to push the drink into popular culture. “The concept is that you combine the art of cognac mixology with that of artists. When you’ve a singer singing ‘Drink Hennessy yo!’ youngsters take notice,” says Mirey.
Some are skeptical, however. “The cognac market is very small in India... We don’t see it emerging as a key player in the near term,” opines Bikram Basu of Pernod Ricard India, the company that owns
Martell cognac.

Manish Gupta, F&B manager at Taj Mahal hotel, says vodka still rules the cocktail world, but sees “huge potential” for neat cognac. “It depends on the marketing to make it catch on as a fad,” he says. For now, Luthra has advice for young drinkers — “Go ahead and experiment. Cognac is a versatile drink; have it the way you like.”

Know the basics
Depending on long it is aged, there’re 3 grades — VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Special) and XO (Extra Old0

Only brandy produced in the Cognac region as per certain guidelines is called cognac Cognac Summit

1 lime peel n 4 thin slices fresh ginger n 40 ml Cognac VSOP n 60 ml lemonade
1 long piece of cucumber peel n 4-5 ice cubes

Place lime zest and ginger slices in a glass. Pour 20 ml cognac. Lightly muddle lime and ginger. Half fill the glass with ice. Stir well. Pour in rest of the cognac, lemonade and cucumber peel. Stir well. Serve immediately.