I apologize for the delay on this one. I was recently sent some Camus Cognac to review, and I immediately came up with a delicious drink to use it in. For some reason I just haven’t felt like writing it up, but now I’ve gone beyond delayed into tardy, and I’m just gonna shove this out there.
Camus is apparently starting a big push to bring their cognacs into the US market. They sent me minis of their full basic range: the VS, VSOP, XO, and Borderies XO. The first three are from their new “Elegance” line; the Borderies is a regional production which is, I believe, estate-grown and -bottled.
Generally I like the somewhat rough bite of a VS for mixing more than I like the extremely refined, rich tastes of an XO, and I found the Camus lineup to be no exception. The VS and VSOP offered that dry, bordering-on-weird taste that draws me to cognac, while the XO and Borderies XO were a shade softer. The advertising copy I was sent claims that Borderies cognacs are renowned for an aroma of dried violets. I can’t claim to have noticed that, but I would say that the Borderies XO was slightly sharper and more floral than the rounded, oaky Elegance XO. Then again, I make no claim to being an expert on cognacs, so I may be missing the point. Compared to my current bottle of nice cognac, the whole line was a bit sweeter and oakier; I would say it compares favorably against the big cognac houses – Hennessy, Courvoisier, and the like. Depending on the price of the VS and the VSOP, they could very well be a good value for mixing.
I’m currently working my way through a batch of orange-marmalade syrup, and I found myself thinking about how to make it into a cocktail. I thought the caramelized-orange flavors might pair well with the dry-grape aromas of the cognac, and I decided to build a cocktail modeled after a Toronto.
Orange Pekoe Cocktail (original):
- 2 oz VS or VSOP cognac (Camus)
- 3/4 oz Fernet Branca
- 1/4 oz orange marmalade syrup*
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, and shake until well-chilled (shaking is necessary to incorporate the marmalade syrup). Strain into a cocktail glass.
Amazingly, this somewhat eclectic mixture ended up tasting almost exactly like black tea. The bitter edge of the Fernet was moderated somewhat by the thick mouthfeel of the pectins from the orange syrup, and paired with the puckering dryness of the cognac to give an impression of tannins. Crossing sensory modalities (visual and olfactory) I settled on the “Orange Pekoe” name because of the orange aromas from the syrup. All in all, a remarkably balanced cocktail for a first attempt. Definitely a winner for the Camus cognac.
*See recipe for grapefruit-marmalade syrup here.