Cognac Old Fashioned

July  1, 2020
3 Ratings
Photo by Apartment Bartender
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 1 minute
  • Serves 1
Author Notes

Hey Food52 fam! I’m Elliott—a huge cocktail nerd and home bartending enthusiast based in Denver, CO. My love for the world of spirits and cocktails started back in 2015 after spontaneously taking a cocktails 101 class at Astor Wine & Spirits in Manhattan. I learned so much in that class: Why you should always use fresh citrus, why you shake a cocktail versus stirring it, why one spirit is better used in a drink than another, why ice matters more than we give it credit for, to name a few.

After that class, I was completely hooked on cocktail making. I traveled back home, went right to Total Wine, and purchased a bunch of bottles I knew nothing about. This started the journey of Apartment Bartender.

At the time, I was working in sales at a software company based in Arizona. After work, I’d rush home to beat the sunset to make a cocktail, photograph it on the little side table by the only apartment window, and post it to Instagram for the purpose of keeping a recipe log.

I say Apartment Bartender happened on complete accident because I had no idea or expectation that making drinks, photographing drinks, and putting myself out there on social media would pave a way for me in the hospitality industry. But I soon discovered a community of people as in love with the world of spirits and cocktails as I am, and that a great drink extended so much further beyond my apartment.

My work has taken me around the world— Scotland, Patagonia, Singapore, Mexico, and all across the United States. I’ve continued learning about spirits, their production process, and everything else that goes into them for the purpose of gaining a deeper appreciation for what we imbibe.

And I’m here to share that all with you!

Starting ya off with my go-to cocktail. It’s a variation on a classic old fashioned, but instead of using bourbon or rye whiskey, I incorporate the spirit of cognac (which is my favorite of all the spirits for so many reasons), a high-quality brandy produced from distilled white wine.

You might be thinking this drink sounds more on the wintery side, but Cognac is a fruit based spirit produced from fermented and distilled grape juice (technically wine), so it comes with a softer touch than most grain based spirits like bourbon.

Incorporating cognac really brightens up a classic old fashioned, and makes it perfect for the summer time (or all year round, really). The demerara syrup, made from equal parts demerara sugar (a large-grained cane sugar with a light-brown hue and a toffee-like flavor) and water, adds a bit of sweetness and caramelly depthness to the mix. And then some orange bitters and Angostura bitters add an herbal aroma, complete with a twist of lemon for citrusy brightness.

So let’s pour ourselves up a drink, relax, and get ready to dive in because we have a lot of mixin’ to do! —Apartment Bartender

Test Kitchen Notes

Apartment Bartender is a column by Elliott Clark, Food52's Resident Bartender and an avid at-home cocktail enthusiast. Elliott's here to help us bring our favorite bar-worthy sips home—and with his spot-on guidance and expert tips, you'll soon be stirring, shaking, and garnishing like a pro. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Cognac Old Fashioned
  • 2 ounces cognac
  • 1/4 ounce demerara syrup (recipe below)
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1 dash angostura bitters
  • 1 lemon, for garnish
  • Demerara Syrup
  • 1 cup demerara sugar
  • 1 cup water
  1. Cognac Old Fashioned
  2. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker or large mixing/stirring glass, add ice, and stir to combine.
  3. Strain the cocktail into a rocks glass over ice.
  4. Pare a lemon peel, and express the peel over the cocktail (twist the peel with your thumbs and forefingers into a spiral shape) to release the lemon’s essential oils. Then place the garnish into the drink. Enjoy!
  1. Demerara Syrup
  2. Combine the demerara sugar and water into a medium saucepan on the stove. Heat the water, and lightly stir to dissolve the sugar (do not bring the water to a boil). Remove from the heat and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Steve
  • tinyapartmentchef
Elliott Clark, also known as the Apartment Bartender, is a well-respected tastemaker, cocktail creator, spirits writer, and photographer in the spirits industry. What started out as a hobby for making cocktails at home has developed into a full-blown career that takes Elliott all over the world mixing drinks for some of the world’s most notable brands, and making the world of spirits more accessible to the at-home cocktail enthusiast.

2 Reviews

Steve June 13, 2023
Also consider the Brandy Cocktail, which uses Dry Curaçao as the sweetener:
2 ounces cognac or brandy
½ ounce Dry Curaçao
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
tinyapartmentchef July 16, 2020
I used an American Brandy for this - great flavor and unique twist on an old fashioned!