The stereotype of men of a certain age sipping cognac in wood-paneled gentlemen's clubs has been replaced by the image of a younger generation drinking the French spirit in nightclubs and at fine dining restaurants.
That hipper image of the brandy is exemplified by D'Usse, a new VSOP cognac created under the aegis of Bacardi at the Chateau de Cognac, a French cognac house founded in 1795.
“Cognac has been growing in popularity in the United States, and people have been trading up from the VS to the higher-quality VSOP,” says Giles Woodyer, vice president and managing director at D'Usse.
D'Usse (pronounced dew-say) was developed with these new cognac cognoscenti in mind. The complex spirit has a bold flavor with woody notes and hints of spice, almonds and cinnamon followed by a smooth finish that delivers accents of honey and dried fruit. The smoothness is achieved by aging the cognac in French oak barrels in the cellars of the chateau whose thick stone walls, bordering the banks of the Charente River, create an ideal microclimate. Humidity in the cellars is 90 percent, and the temperature is a constant 59 degrees.
Woodyer encourages newcomers to sip D'Usse neat to enjoy the nuances of the spirit. Jay-Z put the hip-hop stamp of approval on the cognac last year when he hosted parties to launch it at nightclubs in New York and Miami. In a promotional video, filmed to the sounds of silence, an elegant Jay-Z, relaxing in a chic New York apartment, reaches for a glass of cognac next to the distinctive bottle of D'Usse emblazoned with a gold Croix de Lorraine.
“The cross dates back centuries and is a symbol of honesty, integrity and boldness and was used by the French resistance during World War II,” Woodyer says.
D'Usse was also developed for cocktail fans. When it was introduced at The Aviary in Chicago, known for its cutting-edge cocktails, guests enjoyed a contemporary version of the classic Lorraine 75 with food pairings from the kitchen of owner and culinary icon Grant Achatz.
Woodyer says, “The cocktail combines the spicy woodiness with the herbaceous and spicy ingredients of Benedictine, and you lighten it and give it some oomph by topping it with the fizz of prosecco.”
1 part D'Usse cognac
1/2 part Benedictine liqueur
1/2 part lemon juice
1/2 part homemade grenadine (equal parts pomegranate juice and sugar)
Top with Martini prosecco
Serve in a Champagne flute garnished with a lemon spiral.
Created by Justin Noel, D'Usse brand ambassador and head mixologist at 1534, a NYC cocktail bar