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#211

CAN OR COGNAC?

31 Aug 2015 By

A Week with Remy Martin means it’s seven days of Cognac cocktails. ‘Sacre bleu’ you say. Why would you waste an expensive spirit on cocktails?!? Well, we spoke to Richard Gillam (Channel Manager for Rémy Cointreau) to dispel some Cognac myths.

Richard Gillam is the Regional On‐Trade Channel Manager for Rémy Cointreau, and has been in the alcohol industry for over 18 years. He represents the company’s core portfolio (Remy Martin, The Botanist Islay Gin, Mount Gay Rum, Bruichladdich Islay Single Malt Whiskies and Cointreau) and is the man who is expanding the brands’ presence and influence throughout Asia. He knows a thing or three about Cognacs, so we got him to give us a quick Remy Martin 101 before we hit the participating bars.

Remy Martin cocktails 

1) How versatile is Rémy Martin as a cocktail spirit? 
Cognac was actually the first spirit used in mixology back in the day. It was the base for the real classic cocktails in the pre-1900 era and is actually a key ingredients in your sazerac, juleps, classic champagne cocktails from 1875. Back then, Cognac was seen as versatile spirit in the cocktail culture of the prohibition era. Due to the evolution of spirits over the years, the focus has shifted to whiskey and gin and Cognac took a back seat and became perceived as a reserved and somewhat old spirit. When in actual fact, its very usable.  
 
2) What’s your favourite RM cocktail?
My favourite drink is actually a very old from the 1930s in France called the Biarritz Monk Buck in France. It is made with  Rémy Martin , lemon juice, ginger beer, dash of sugar syrup, a yellow chartreuse float served in a long high ball glass. This cocktail was created in the 1930s and is most prominently featured in a legendary cocktail book called the Gentleman’s Companion, which many will attest to being one of the best cocktail books to be appreciated.
 
3) What are some misconceptions about Rémy Martin we should know? (Is it too expensive to use in a cocktail?)
One of the reasons people think its expensive is because Rémy Martin’s entry level cognac is a VSOP which is a step up from the others. Most cognac brands start from the VS grade. This leads people to perceive that the brand is more inaccessible than it actually is. We can attribute this mainly to a lack of understanding and exposure to the brand which brings me back to my original point about Cognac being perceived to be not as “cool” or slightly dated as compared to bourbon, gin or rum.
This is the main reason as to why we are hosting this inaugural Week with Rémy Martin to educate and share with cocktail enthusiasts, the strengths and versatility of the spirit. We feel this is the right time to host such an event due to the cocktail culture and scene. We’re living in exciting times now, where luxury gins and rum prices are rising and there is a better appreciation for premium/higher grade spirits in the use of cocktails and food. This change in scene is making it more widely acceptable for cognac to be appreciated again, as it was in the pre-prohibition era. 
 
4) What’s the best way to drink Cognac?
Exactly the same way you would drink whiskey which is exactly the way the person drinking it wants to. You can opt to mix it with water, Coke, ginger ale, on the rocks or neat. In France, it is commonly drank with ginger ale and Rémy Martin VSOP, or Tonic water with Rémy Martin VSOP.
Other interesting ways to drink the spirit includes drinking it straight up from the freezer as a form of digestif. The taste evolves as the liquid slowly thaws to room temperature. Personally, I prefer it the classic French way – Rémy Martin and ginger beer.
 
Cognac 101 with Richard Gillam is happening tonight 1830 hrs at KUVO.  It’s S$68 for a bunch of cocktails and bites. And scintillating convo with the man as well.
 
More info here: A Week with Remy Martin
 
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