26.06.2019. This post has been updated with a current story about Coca-Cola’s new “Signature Mixers” range.
D’you know one thing we adore about drinking Cognac in the 21st century? (Yes, yes, the taste—that kind of goes without saying…) But what we really love is that the so-called “rules” of how, when, and where to imbibe have been well and truly ripped up and tossed out of the window. Because today, not only is it acceptable to combine your Cognac and Coke, it’s positively encouraged!
So who do we have to thank for this rather dramatic change in trend? It’s a little difficult to pinpoint exactly, but the joys of enjoying a Cognac mixed drink, such as with Coca Cola or a specifically designed dark spirit mixer, has been gaining pace over the past decade or so.
From the hip-hop artists who don’t give a (insert preferred expletive) as to what other people think of them—least of all their choice of drink—to the rise of the millennial Chinese and Indian Cognac drinkers with a penchant for mixing high quality Cognac with a variety of mixers, such growing groups of consumers are overtaking those who only partake of Cognac in a more traditional manner.
And then there’s the increasing popularity of the Cognac cocktail. But that’s another subject altogether.
Coca-Cola: The legacy of the “brandy and Coke” mixer
The instantly recognizable red and white branded soda has had a pretty tough rap over the years. It wasn’t that long ago that adding Coke to your Cognac could’ve seen you unceremoniously bundled out of certain establishments. Thankfully, the days when Cognac was almost unanimously consumed by men, from a snifter, at the end of an artery-narrowing feast, have almost been consigned to history—not quite, admittedly. But we’re getting there.
But times are definitely progressing, meaning the soft drink giant has had to get with the trend. And to this end, they’ve recently launched a range of “Posh Mixers”, likely in competition with other high-end manufacturers such as Fever Tree and Fentimans.
So get ready to team your favorite Cognac with signature gems such as the Spicy Mixer, the Herbal Mixer, the Smoky Mixer, and the Woody Mixer, each of which combines some rather innovative ingredients to create some interesting flavors.
These “Signature Mixers” by Coca Cola have been created in collaboration with a group of top mixologists. The drinks have been at the drawing board stage since March 2018, with the great and good in the world of mixology putting together a combination of flavors that were put under the spotlight. These were eventually whittled down to the four that made the final cut. And now, in June 2019, the mixers are being launched to the general public.
Out of the four mixers on offer, Coca Cola says that the Herbal Mixer is the one best designed to complement Cognac. It’s meant to highlight the fruity flavors, adding herbal complexity to stimulate the senses. In fact, they go as far as to tell us exactly how to combine it: 50ml of Cognac over ice, 125ml of the Herbal Notes Signature Mixer, and garnish the drink with a sprig of basil.
This particular mixer has been co-created with master mixologist, Antonio Naranjo. It’s “delightfully floral, crisp, and tart”, with ingredients that include tagetes, hops, dill seed, and lemongrass. And, of course, a bunch of E numbers—it’s still Coca Cola, after all.
Two other players in the “Cognac and Coke” game
When you hear the word “Coke” most of us automatically think of the globally known brand that helped shape the image of Santa (Yes, Coca-Cola really did, even though they weren’t totally responsible).
The first of these is the delicious “Curiosity Cola” from Fentimans. Botanically brewed and infused with various different types of cinnamon, we have to say that the absence of those pesky E numbers and a plethora of only natural ingredients makes for a great choice of Cognac mixer.
Fever Tree have also gone down the au natural route with their “Madagascan Cola”. Containing only carbonated spring water, natural flavorings, Madagascan vanilla (obviously) roasted barley malt, and a few other natural ingredients, this one also comes in a low sugar version called “Refreshingly Light”.
Clubbers, experience-seekers, and millennials lead the way
The fact that Coca Cola has jumped on the high-end mixer bandwagon is pretty solid proof that there’s a very real market for dark spirit mixers. (Although admittedly, they’ve made some giant cock-ups in the past—Coca Cola Green being a prime example, no sooner launched than destined for the scrap heap).
The thing is, drinkers—and young professionals in particular—have moved to more refined ways of enjoying their alcohol. The millennial generation, and Gen Z—as more and more of them hit drinking age—seek something more than just sipping alcohol for the buzz. They want the whole experience to be top shelf, hence the massive rise in the preference for craft beer and spirits. Discover more about this fascinating direction in our article about the millennial trends changing the face of Cognac.
The Coke Cognac mix: It even gets the thumbs up from the top Cognac houses
Born in Armagnac country, this daughter of winegrowers started her illustrious career with Rémy Martin at the age of 20. Now 58, Trichet is clear about her vision, confident in her ability and focused on the future of Rémy Martin Cognac.
She’s now handed the reins of the plum Rémy job to her successor, Baptiste Loiseau, but remains a forceful figure within the industry. And in a (gradually changing) male-dominated world, it takes a certain type of woman to become so well respected. And if Trichet, probably the most influential woman in Cognac today, gives the go-ahead to drinks such as Cognac and Coke then who on earth are we to argue?
Coca Cola rolls out its range of Signature Mixers this month in the UK. Only time will tell if they’ll catch on.
Time to try the killer combo for yourselves…
For those unable to get their hands on Coca Cola’s latest offering just yet, then give the Fentimans and Fever Tree options a try. We’d recommend fusing with a good VSOP or Napoléon. Or, if you’re feeling really decadent, then a powerful XO. It’s all about experimentation, and doing so leads to that whole taste “experience”. And that, after all, is the whole reason we all love Cognac so much.
Now, more than ever, is the time to throw tradition to the wind and get up close and personal with a new era of Cognac drinking. So don’t fight it, get involved and try that Cognac and Coke. You never know, you might even find you like it…