Don’t have this French brandy on hand? Here’s the best Cognac substitute to use when you’re mixing up cocktails.
Making a cocktail that calls for Cognac and don’t have it? Don’t worry, there are few options that work for this popular liquor. Cognac is a type of French brandy, a liquor made from distilling wine. The flavor of Cognac is rich and full-bodied, with a spicy finish and hints of fruit and leather. (Yep!) There are several grades of Cognac that designate how long it’s been aged: VS or 3 stars (2 years), VSOP (4 years), Napoléon (6 years), and XO (10 years).
Best Cognac substitute
The best Cognac substitute? Any type of brandy. This is not surprising, since Cognac is a high-end French brandy! Brandy is a liquor made from distilling wine. Armagnac and Calvados are other types of French brandy, and Brandy de Jerez is Spanish brandy. Any of these would work as a substitute!
One exception: Pisco is Peruvian brandy. But we wouldn’t suggest using it here because it’s not a flavor match. Save it for a Pisco sour.
Another great Cognac substitute? Bourbon. The boozy strength of bourbon, the spicy finish and the warm notes of vanilla, oak and caramel are a good flavor match to brandy. Of course, bourbon tastes like bourbon! But it makes a nice stand-in for Cognac in a cocktail. Try it in a Sidecar or Sazerac.
Another Cognac substitute that works in a pinch? Sherry. Sherry is a fortified wine that’s made by adding grape liquor to white wine. The flavor is very sharp and dry, with less of the warm, earthy notes of brandy. It’s pretty different flavor-wise, but it can work in a pinch.
Here are some Cognac recipes to try:
- Classic Sidecar Cocktail
- Stinger Cocktail
- French Connection Cocktail
- Between the Sheets
- Sazerac Cocktail
- Vieux Carre
- Brandy Old Fashioned
- Milk Punch
- Red Sangria
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.