There’s no denying that the Cognac cocktail is the drink of the moment. From the night clubs of New York to the swankiest of LA gatherings (and dare we presume, even in the White House?) we’re all enjoying our Cognac shaken, stirred, and crafted into the ultimate drinking experience—that of the cocktail.

And none are so in-vogue right now than that of the Sazerac cocktail and the Stinger cocktail.

Cognac: The ultimate ingredient for a Sazerac or Stinger cocktail
The classic Sazerac cocktail

Both of these classic cocktails have a far-reaching history. So let’s take a look at each in detail and, of course, the ingredients and recipes so you can practice your skills and wow your friends with your incredible cocktail-making prowess.

The Sazerac: One of America’s oldest known cocktail recipes

Certainly a roller-coaster ride for the taste buds, the Sazerac cocktail is not for the faint-hearted.  But first of all let’s make one thing about this cocktail clear, because there’s often much confusion about whether or not you make a Sazerac with Cognac or whisky?

Quite simply, if we’re going to be true to history, this cocktail is made with Cognac. Specifically, Sazerac de Forge et Fils Cognac, to be completely accurate, as this was the original main ingredient. Although you’ll need deep pockets if you want to re-create with this particular Cognac, as these rare to find collector’s items change hands for thousands of dollars. 

The cocktail was first enjoyed back in New Orleans back in the 1800s. The story behind the creation of The Sazerac was that one Antoine Amedee Peychaud invented an aromatic bitters—one that was named after him and is the same that’s available today—and enjoyed it mixed with hot brandy. Of course, he made it for his friends, who made it for theirs, and so on… It was such a hit that soon the bars of New Orleans (known as coffee houses back then) began to serve the drink. 

Cognac: The ultimate ingredient for a Sazerac or Stinger cocktail
Serve the Sazerac Cocktail in an old fashioned glass

One such house was the Merchant’s Exchange Coffee House, where the owner, Sewell Taylor, was also an importer of liquor. It was he who introduced Sazerac de Forge et Fils Cognac to the city, and it was soon the preferred choice for the not-yet-named Sazerac Cocktail.

Taylor sold his coffee shop to one Aaron Bird, who renamed it The Sazerac Coffee House. He put his own spin on the bitters and Cognac blend, adding in absinthe and sugar, and so the Sazerac Cocktail was born.

Cognac: The ultimate ingredient for a Sazerac or Stinger cocktail
The old Coffee House district in New Orleans where the Sazerac Cocktail became popular

Ingredients

Of course, as with any cocktail they’ll always be individual twists, especially in today’s exciting world of mixology. But if you’re looking to re-create a delicious Sazerac at home, the following is, we think, fairly faithful to the original Sazerac Cognac recipe created all those years ago.

2 oz. VSOP Cognac

Bar spoon Absinthe

3 Dashes Peychauds Bitters

2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Sugar Cube

Lemon twist 

Use a mixing glass or shaker to prepare the mix. Place the Cognac in the glass, add the sugar cube and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the bitters and the ice and stir.

Take a pre-chilled rocks glass, add a dash of absinth and swirl it around the sides. Discard any excess, and then strain the Cognac mix into the glass. Squeeze the lemon over the drink, wipe around the rim – these oils are an essential component of the cocktail., so don’t forget this part. 

Check out this video to see how the experts do it…

It’s interesting that they’re using Louis Royer 53 High Strength VSOP Cognac in this video. We have to say, it’s a fab choice, thanks to the high ABV.

For those who’re fans of a more whisky-esque cocktail, then we recommend trying it with Bache Gabrielsen’s American Oak Cognac, a unique offering thanks to finishing off the aging process in Tennessee Oak barrels.

The Stinger: Who’d ever have thought Cognac and mint could be such a hit?

The Stinger Cocktail was a 1920s high society favorite—the pre-prohibition mix was a favorite of playboy, Reginald Vanderbilt, and also featured in iconic movies such as Kiss Them For Me (a 1957 hit with Cary Grant) and High Society with ‘Ol blue eyes and Bing Crosby.

Combining Cognac with Crème de Menthe is definitely an acquired taste, but apparently back in the day the minty flavor helped to hide the alcohol on the breath.

Cognac: The ultimate ingredient for a Sazerac or Stinger cocktail
The mint of Creme de Menthe is mixed with Cognac to create The Stinger cocktail

When it comes to cocktail mixing, the Stinger has to be one of the simplest we’ve come across. So let’s take a look at how to make it.

Stinger ingredients and recipe

2 ¼ oz Cognac (most recipes suggest a VS, but we recommend a good VSOP such as the Meukow VSOP Superior)

¾ oz. of good quality Crème de Menthe

Dash of orange bitters (optional, and a more recent addition to the mix so not faithful to the original)

Sprig of mint

Cognac: The ultimate ingredient for a Sazerac or Stinger cocktail
The Stinger can be served in an old fashioned glass or a cocktail glass

Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker (except the sprig of mint) with some ice and shake. Use a pre-cooled cocktail or old fashioned glass, strain the mix over crushed ice. Garnish with the mint and enjoy.

Such an easy and quick Cognac cocktail to make. See the video:

As you can see, he’s using Hennessy VS Cognac in the video. This is, of course, a perfectly adequate Cognac to use. But we recommend raising the bar a little with a VSOP at the very least. Take a look at the great range of VSOP Cognacs on offer, and select your perfect Cognac cocktail partner with a little help from our detailed descriptions. Plus we’ve added in all awarded medals and prizes, a handy tool to help with your next Cognac purchase.

And if we’ve whetted your appetite for the delights of a Cognac cocktail, check out our blog article, 30 Best Cognac Cocktail Recipes, for more inspiration.

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Jacki has been with Cognac Expert from virtually the beginning. She's the senior editor of the blog, and has spent much of her life living in rural France. Today she's based back in the UK, where she splits her working life between writing for Cognac Expert and working as a Paramedic at a large regional hospital.

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