How To Drink Cognac And Coffee For A Luxurious Pairing

When the morning moodiness strikes and you want to simultaneously curb it and lean into it, look no further than a cognac-spiked coffee. Nina Simone said she wanted a little sugar in her bowl, Jim Morrison said he needed a brand new friend, and we're presenting the answer to both conundrums with this palate-pleasing elixir straight out of our most sophisticated dreams — and if that sounds a little exorbitant, try this classic combo out for yourself.

Cognac is a less obvious choice for coffee spiking than whiskey, brandy, or Irish cream liqueur, but when paired together, coffee cognac makes for a mature digestif with a little caffeinated pick-me-up to make sure you remain a charming conversationalist with your dinner party guests even as that post-meal food coma starts to set in. Why does it work? When it comes to both coffee and cognac, it's all about the "nose."

Both crafted liquids are the product of nuanced flavor notes, careful cultivation, and expert preparation. Thanks to its two-year (or longer) maturation period, cognac is imbued with a signature deep amber hue and a fruity, spicy profile with subtle notes of vanilla, peach, caramel, prune, apricot, orange, baking spices, toffee, dried flowers, and/or tobacco. If these notes sound like ingredients you might read on the side of a bag of artisanal roasted coffee, you're getting the point.

Care for your coffee and cognac's quality

Cognac brings out the natural nuttiness and spice of coffee. When warm, sweet cognac meets intense aromatic coffee, the result is a rich, complex, luxurious cocktail experience that's inherently "warm," even if you serve it chilled. As you brainstorm, keep in mind that assembling a "hand-crafted beverage" means not neglecting the java. For best results, use a full-bodied dark roast coffee or any coffee beans with a Brazilian or Columbian origin. Coffee counts, and not just when it comes to the flavor notes. To ensure a high-quality cup, it's a good idea to whip out your French press or pour over rather than pour your coffee straight from the pot.

Since it's going to be mixed into coffee and potentially paired with other ingredients as well, there's no need to use up your top-shelf cognac. Still, just like in any cocktail, the quality of your spirits makes a big difference, and that doesn't mean you shouldn't spike your coffee in style. Courvoisier VSOP Cognac is a French variety with top notes of almond, cinnamon, and raisin with a woody finish; a natural mate for coffee that retails for around $51. Or, for an extra smoky, spicy finish, consider Giboin X.O. Royale Borderies Cognac, a 15-year variety toting sandalwood, roasted almond, dark chocolate, and candied orange (roughly $70). Whichever way you decide to build your coffee cocktail, incorporate the cognac at room temperature for pique performance.

Stronger serving suggestions for the broody barfly

There's nothing in the rulebook that says you can't just add a few drops of cognac into a cup of black coffee and call it a day. Start with 1 teaspoon of cognac per 8-ounce cup of coffee and go from there. But, to temper some of the intensity, you could also add a splash of cream or a flavored creamer, or keep it sophisticated and highlight the coffee's natural acidity with a lemon wedge garnish. A few whole cardamom pods or a squirt of cardamom simple syrup would lend a similarly impressive dimensionality to your boozy brew. To amp up the booziness, use both cognac and a splash of Butterscotch Schnapps, which essentially functions in a cup of coffee as caramel syrup with a kick.

Whip up a caffeinated take on the stiff New Orleans Vieux Carré cocktail with cognac, rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, Benedictine liqueur (which tastes like a floral, herbaceous bomb of sophistication), a dash of bitters, and a shot of cold brew concentrate. Don't forget the maraschino cherry to garnish. For a little balancing sweetness, you could also stir in a splash of jarred cherry juice.

Sweeter sippers for coffee-loving cocktail fans

We're already huge fans of pairing cognac and chocolate ice cream and boozy coffee creations like the spiked affogato. With cognac, it's time to take "adult desserts" up a notch by making this sweeter (and frankly, more fun) take on the espresso martini that still has cocktail fans everywhere in an unrelenting chokehold. Whip up a quick dessert cocktail with strong brewed dark roast coffee, cognac, coffee liqueur, heavy cream, and a generous scoop of vanilla or coffee-flavored ice cream. To combine, vigorously mix all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. If you've ever made whipped cream analog-style before, the motion will feel familiar.

For a spiked sipper that's perfect any time of day, the Café Royale is a latte-inspired cocktail that traditionally uses whiskey or coffee liqueur, but cognac will work just fine. To make it, combine equal parts cognac, cold brew concentrate, a splash of hazelnut coffee creamer, and whipped cream to garnish (bonus points if you top it with some freshly grated nutmeg or chocolate shavings). Other bartenders prefer to forgo the cold brew concentrate and make a warm Café Royale with cognac, hot black coffee, and sugar.

You could also whip up a reimagined, coffee-infused French Connection by spiking vanilla-flavored coffee with a boozy two-parter of cognac and amaretto. The sweet almond liqueur makes a natural complement to cognac's bittersweet spiced flavor and would be delicious served steaming hot in a mug or chilled in a tulip glass.