Cat Byers tells you where to try Cognac cocktails over the next few weeks in Paris.
As a spirit, Cognac tends to get a bad rep. Lacking the neutrality of vodka, the respect of whisky or the recent hipster makeover of gin, this French brandy still tends to conjure up images of old men in smoking jackets rather than hip young things on the cocktail scene. However, it looks set to be the next spirit to break the traditional mould and hit the mainstream in Paris – and the annual Cognac Cocktail Connexion (CCC) is largely responsible for this.
Now entering its fifth year, the 2017 edition celebrates the diversity of Cognac with specialist menus at four of the best bars in Paris – Le Botanist, Castor Club, Solera, and Bisou – as well as Cancan in Bordeaux. Organised in collaboration with the BNIC and Barmag Magazine, the CCC is throwing a Cognac soirée at each of these bars until the 7th of December. I headed to the most recent event at Solera in the 5th arrondissement to see what all the fuss was about.
A welcome recent addition to an area more commonly known for dodgy student pubs, Solera is bringing cocktail class to this pocket of the Left Bank with a renowned mixologist (Christopher Gaglione, formerly of Prince de Galles Hotel) and a stylish, low-lit interior with a mix of luxury and tropical accents. I tucked myself into a table in the corner and ordered a Champs-Elysées from the Cognac cocktail menu, which offered a selection of four drinks. Made with Augostura bitters, powdered sugar, fresh lemon juice, green chartreuse and the essential Cognac, the cocktail was the perfect blend of sweet and bitter, with the Cognac adding complexity and a hint of dried fruit. Priced at 10€, it was also one of the more affordable cocktails I’ve enjoyed in the city, where most stretch from 12-15€ at respected bars. Good prices, excellent cocktails and a stylish setting? I think I’ve found a new favourite spot – and a surprisingly enjoyable new spirit.
The Cognac Cocktail Connexion runs until 7 December 2017. The next event will be at Bisou on Thursday 23 November. You can reserve a space at the event here: cognac-cocktail-connexion.com.
Solera is located at 283 Rue Saint-Jacques, 75005 Paris. More at facebook.com/Solera.Paris.
Bisou is located at 15 Boulevard du Temple, 75003 Paris. More at facebook.com/bisoubar.