So, it was one of those weeks, and at least several of my friends were having the same week, which seems to be a theme for a lot of women. But a few days in, something amazing happened that turned the week around. I came home to find a package on the front porch. Unlike all the rest of my packages, this was not a boring Amazon Prime box full of necessities. Nope. This was a beautiful gift, a bottle of Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège. One of my dearest friends and I began to plan something that will forever after be known as "Hennessy Night." She's also a neighbor, so no driving would be necessary.
On Friday, my friend — who incidentally is the one who introduced me to Hennessy, which she puts in mulled cider, which is delicious — texted me. "Is tomorrow still Hennessy Night?" Yes, yes it was. The next night, she and another neighbor friend came over and we went to town. As an aside, I love all my friends, but neighbor friends are particularly valuable because you don't have to dress up to hang out at each other's houses. I served pimiento cheese for dinner and we all wore comfortable pants.
The first cocktail we tried was an egg white cocktail we found on the internet that I honestly didn't love, but I made up my own a few days later and I do recommend this one. It has no name, so help me out. What do we call it?
Nameless Hennessy Cocktail with Amaro and Egg White
1 ½ oz. Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège
1 egg white
1 oz. lemon juice
¼ oz. amaro (I used High Wire)
¼ oz. Chambord (optional, if you prefer a sweet drink)
Fresh pepper (pink peppercorns if you have them)
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake until frothy. Add ice and shake again to chill. Strain into a cocktail glass.
Top with cracked pepper and drink!
The next cocktail was a suggestion from Hennessy, and I approve. Also, I learned that maple water is a thing you can buy at Rosewood Market in Columbia and it's a light, delightful addition to a drink. I don't normally associate cognac with light refreshing drinks, but the Maple Leaf 2.0 is exactly that. I would absolutely serve this at a tailgate, a holiday happy hour, or on a random afternoon, because I'm an adult and I can.
The Maple Leaf 2.0
Move over pumpkin spice- MAPLE is the ‘IT’ flavor this season! Teleport to a wooded log cabin and usher in the flavors of fall with the delicate blend of aromas that this balanced libation brings! [Ed. Note: This statement is from Hennessy, and I agree with their assessment.]
1.5 oz. Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège Cognac
3.5 oz. Maple water
Garnish: Orange twist (discard). Top with a maple leaf or punched out orange twist in the shape of a maple leaf
Pour all ingredients into a rocks glass, stir to combine. Express orange twist over the glass, discard twist, and garnish with a maple leaf.
So, maybe you thought we were finished. Nope. It was Hennessy Night and we were committed to the theme. We were also finding ourselves pretty entertaining by this point. We had a few sips of my friend's mulled cider, with Hennessy, of course. Then we retired to the living room because it was almost time for Saturday Night Live and we were ready for it. Next up? A round of French 75, with Hennessy of course!
Thanks to Hennessy, we not only survived the week, we ended it on a high note, with a night in full of laughter, excellent cocktails, and comfortable pants with good friends. Really, is there anything better?
A few days later I came home on one of those days when everyone but me had somewhere to be. The house was empty, which is really, really rare. The kids were gone, my husband was still at work, and the dog was walked and ready to just chill. It was a little bit chilly outside, at least for South Carolina. I was ready for my first Manhattan of the season, and the bottle of Hennessy, while definitely depleted, was still available. Now, I used to be a rye Manhattan type of person, but no more. Cognac took it too another level and I'm sold.
My Personal Afternoon Manhattan
1 ½ oz. Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège
½ oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1-2 fancy cherries, like Luxardo or these bourbon-vanilla soaked cherries I have in my fridge that someone gave me years ago and I hoard for special occasions
Pour all ingredients except cherries into a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir and strain into a glass with one big ice cube. Add cherries and enjoy.
I like one enormous ice cube in my drink because it doesn't get watered down as quickly. I use a silicone tray like this one to make the large cubes.
If you find yourself wanting another round, don't bother with the whole shaker routine. Just pour it straight into the glass and stir.
If you're looking to add a bottle to your bar cart this season, may I suggest Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège? It's darn versatile and darn delicious. And if you want to host Hennessy Night to try out all your options, please invite me. I'll bring the fancy cherries and we'll have so much fun.