Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I find it odd when a cocktail recipe simply says “vermouth” rather than specify between the (generally) drier French and (generally) sweeter Italian varieties. Yet looking at the recipe provided for a Patrick1 in Cooking with Cognac (1978, Andrée Marik) [5/10 cognac, 3/10 rum, 2/10 “vermouth”] it's hard to go past a dry vermouth as a counterweight to the brown spirit oomph, although if anyone wants to experiment with, say, Punt e Mes, don't let me stop you.

Although Noilly Prat is one of my go-to martini vermouths, I figured Dolin Blanc2 might be a better fit. Compared to Noilly Prat, I find Dolin Blanc a drier, finer and more herbal vermouth: traits I might not be after when making a martini - I'm a sucker for the citrus hit of Noilly Prat, although truth be told, I'm more likely to reach for Lillet Blanc when casting a silver bullet - but just the ticket for introducing length and structure to a mixed drink.

Next, to the rum. Instead of Zacapa, Diplomatico and their similarly rich, caramel-leaning ilk (not that it stopped me from trying: a Zacapa Patrick was the hefty one-note ditty I thought it'd be) I reached for the (comparatively) lighter-bodied Pyrat XO. Neat, I find Pyrat XO’s citrussy, cedary charms a touch too overt, but suspected they'd play nicely with the cognac - which, in this case, was the rest of the fruity, approachable Courvoisier VS. During my trials, I swapped in some Otard VSOP to see how an older brandy would fare, but similar to the Zacapa, the jump in weight class threw out any semblance of balance.

Prior to my cognac forays, “zesty” wasn’t a characteristic I’d associate – or chase – in a cognac-based drink. If only Max Veenhuyzen circa April 2012 had been introduced to the joys of the Patrick sooner.

(Based on a recipe published in Andrée Marik’s Cooking With Cognac, an English reprint of Le Cognac Gastronome)

30ml Courvoisier VS cognac
20ml Pyrat XO rum
10ml Dolin Blanc vermouth

Stir over ice for 30 seconds and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

1 Anyone got intel on the Patrick cocktail? Since cognac, rum and vermouth aren't exactly uncommon spirits, I figured “Patrick” might well be a local name for another cocktail but save for this cursory mention, my research has proved fruitless.

2 A recent arrival on Australian shores, Dolin Blanc is the only vermouth still made according to Vermouth de Chambéry AOC guidelines. While the history of Vermouth de Chambéry goes back to 1821, the appellation - while many French wine styles have their own AOC or appellation, Vermouth de Chambéry is vermouth's only AOC - was only officially recognised in 1932, instantly prompting the question: who were the other Vermouth de Chambéry producers that have fallen by the wayside or have been swallowed up by larger vermouth producers? At any rate, Dolin remains the sole Vermouth de Chambéry on the market.

And so we come to the last of my cognac cocktail discoveries. I must say, I’ve enjoyed having a “theme” to work to and starting in July, am going to start assigning myself monthly research topics. Any suggestions from the readership?