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Is There A Difference Between Cognac & Armagnac?

Let’s begin with the basics here to keep things simple.

So, what kind of liquor is Cognac and what about Armagnac?

In a lay language, cognac and Armagnac are like first cousins, they are similar yet different! They both are French brandies distilled from wine, but they differ vastly in terms of variety of grapes used & distillation process.

Moving on to cognac and brandy, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that all cognacs are brandy but not all brandy is Cognac. To explain it further, brandy is a liquor which is made by distillation of grapes whereas, cognac has to fulfil a certain set of strict parameters for it to be called so. Cognac is a particular form of brandy which is produced specifically in Cognac town of south-western France and it requires to .follow certain stringent legal criterion vis-à-vis naming and production method. In this way, it reminds us to share a similar example of Champagne and sparkling wine, you can read about it here.

Variety of Grapes

Cognac uses 97% of  Ugni Blah grapes which are high in acidity content. Armagnac in addition to Ugni Blah grape variety (55%)also uses three additional varieties of grapes, namely Folle Blanche (5%), of Colombard (5%) and Baco Blanc (35%) grape varieties.

Baco Blanc in Armagnac is a hybrid variety of American Noa & Folle Blanche grape varieties, which is absent in Cognac.

The white wine from which Cognac is made is highly acidic, making it almost undrinkable. However, the produced wine in Armagnac tastes pleasant.

Climate

Climate, temperature & soil variety play a significant role in deciding the grape varieties which grow in a particular region.

The climate in both regions of Cognac and Armagnac differ significantly. By and large, Armagnac experiences moderate-continental climate with dry summers & comparatively harsher winters.

Distillation

The difference in the distillation process significantly affects the end product.

While Armagnac goes through a single distillation in continuous Armagnac pot still (or column still), Cognac goes through double distillation in pot stills (Charentais pot still).

Aging

Following the distillation process, these brandies are then left to age in the barrels. The minimum aging process of Cognac is two years whereas Armagnac can be aged for a minimum period of one year.

As per Cognac regulations, only French oak barrels are permitted for the aging process. Armagnac is left to age in 400-litres oak barrels mostly from the forests of Gascony or Limousin.

To conclude, although the average production of Armagnac is lesser than that of Cognac, the superiority of one brandy over the other cannot be established. While Armagnac is more robust than Cognac, both the brandies are bold spirits with great aromatic richness,  and these are served at room temperature. While Cognac is the vivacious globe-trotting brandy, Armagnac remains low-key!

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Must-Try Traditional Christmas Cocktails

As refreshing Autumn gives way to freezing winters, it’s time to get in the festive groove yet again because Christmas is just around the corner. One of the charms of this chilly season is to curl up in bed all cosy and sipping on your favourite drink as your senses soak in the beauty all around. Keeping up with the wintery and Christmas theme, in this article we bring you a curated list of Christmas cocktails you might want to try as you revel in the festivities.

*For more information about the recipes, please follow the mentioned links.

 

Bombardino – Italy

Image Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/food-and-drink/2015/12/16/drinkitaly_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqcFbVwrldgDqLr44SrdFj-pjiYJg1F3Rk-pkgTvIwLgs.jpg?imwidth=450

Recipe Source:http://honestcooking.com/bombardino-christmas-holiday-or-apres-ski-cheer-from-italy/

The legend has it that this drink was created by a young man from Genova, who then moved to leave his life by the sea to live in the Italian Alps. He served in the mountain infantry and later on opened a ski lodge wher he created this drink to keep few skiers warm in the blizzard. The skier upon taking a sip exclaimed that the drink was like a bomb, and hence the name came into being. Years later, the recipe was improvised & perfected to attain the modern creamy egg & liqueur, stirred in brandy and finished with whipped cream along with cinnamon.

With the story so fascinating, Bombardino tastes divine!

Ingredients

Bombardino

  • 1 part rum or brandy
  • 1 part homemade Advocaat or Egg Nog or Vov
  • Sweetened whipped cream

Calimero

  • 1 part rum or brandy
  • 1 part homemade Advocaat or Egg Nog or Vov
  • 1 part espresso
  • Sweetened whipped cream

Advocaat or Egg Nog or Vov

  • 4 egg yolks
  • ⅓ cup (65g) sugar, plus 1 tablespoon (12g)
  • 2 cups (.5l) whole milk
  • 1 cup (.25l) heavy cream
  • 6 ounces (.175l) brandy
  • 4 egg whites

Directions

Bombardino

  1. Heat the Advocaat and rum or brandy in a small saucepan. If you have a cappuccino machine, you can use the steamer to heat.
  2. Top with sweetened whipped cream. Serve.

Calimero

  1. Heat the Advocaat, rum or brandy, and espresso in a small saucepan. Again, you can also heat using your cappuccino machine.
  2. Top with sweetened whipped cream. Serve.

Advocaat or Egg Nog or Vov

  1. Using a mixer, beat the egg yolks until they are light in color.
  2. Gradually add the ⅓ cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved.
  3. Add the milk, cream, and brandy. Transfer to another bowl.
  4. Place the egg whites in the bowl of the mixer and beat to soft peaks.
  5. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
  6. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
  7. This can be stored for up to a week in your refrigerator.

 

Sorrel Punch – Jamaica

Image Source: https://jamaicans.com/wp-content/uploads/2004/03/Jamaican-Sorrel-Drink-Recipe.jpg

Recipe Source: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/jamaican-sorrel-rum-punch-200629

 It goes like this, that in Jamaica wherever Christmas follow, sorrel punch also follows. Christmas celebrations are incomplete without the traditional rum-based sorrel punch. It is cold brewed & made from sorrel flowers (hibiscus) and spiced with star anise, cinnamon, other spices along with ginger.

Ingredients     

  • 2 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) dried sorrel calyxes (also called jamaica or hibiscus)
  • Two 1-inch cubes of peeled fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 5 3/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups amber rum
  • 2 cups ice cubes, or to taste
  • Lime and orange slices for garnish

Directions

In a heatproof bowl combine the sorrel, the ginger and the cloves. In a saucepan bring 5 cups of the water to a boil, pour it over the sorrel mixture, and let the mixture steep for 4 hours or overnight. While the mixture is steeping, in a small saucepan bring the remaining 3/4 cup water and the sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, and let the syrup cool. Strain the sorrel liquid into a pitcher, discarding the solids, stir in the sugar syrup, the rum and the ice cubes, and garnish the punch with the lime and orange slices.

 

Feuerzangenbowle – Germany

Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/03/Feuerzangenbowle_044-3.jpg

Recipe Source: https://www.epicurus.com/beverages/feuerzangenbowle/7517/

This zesty, lemony-orangy, fiery drink most definitely is not for the faint-hearted! In the literal terms, it’s a classic German ‘fire punch’ much-loved by the world over. Why is it fiery you might wonder? Well, it is because the Sugarloaf is soaked in rum and then set afire which drips into mulled wine.

Ingredient

  • 2 organic oranges
  • 2 organic lemons
  • 3 bottles dry red wine (2 to 3 litres total)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 pinch ginger (ground)
  • 1 pinch cardamom
  • 1 pinch allspice
  • 1 sugar cone
  • 2 cups brown rum (at least 54% alcohol)

Directions

  1. Wash oranges and lemons thoroughly, pat dry and cut into slices or wedges.
  2. In a large pot combine red wine, gently squeezed oranges and lemons, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, allspice and ginger. Heat slowly making sure it does not come to a boil. Remove pot from heat and place on a heat source (such as from a Fondue set).
  3. Place sugar cone into metal holder (“Feuerzange”). A metal rack or mesh strainer will do, as long as it doesn’t sink into the wine – don’t use aluminium.
  4. Soak sugar cone with rum and carefully light it. The sugar will melt and drip into the wine.
  5. Little by little start adding more rum to the sugar cone using a long-handled ladle.
  6. Once the sugar cone and rum have completely burned off, gently stir the concoction and serve in mugs or heatproof glasses.
  7. Important note on safety: This recipe requires handling alcohol and open flames. Be extremely careful and proceed with caution.

 

Wassail – England

Image Source: https://cf.ltkcdn.net/cooking/images/std/187105-325×217-Christmas-Wassail.jpg

Recipe Source: https://www.farmflavor.com/recipe/type/appetizers/traditional-wassail/

Typically served on Christmas Eve, Wassail is a traditional drink from medieval England. With cider, cinnamon, cloves & brandy, Wassail is served warm in the cups & makes for a perfect Christmas-y drink. It keeps you warm as you enjoy the festivities.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • ½ cup brandy, optional

Directions

  1. Mix juices, sugar and seasonings together. Add the brandy at this point to make the alcoholic wassail.
  2. Slowly bring to a boil in a large saucepan or pot. Boil for 1 minute.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Serve hot with sliced oranges floating in the punch bowl.

 

Glögg – Sweden

Image Source: https://blog.etsy.com/en/files/2015/12/glogg-header.jpg

Recipe Source: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/180453/old-fashioned-swedish-glogg/

 This sweetly aromatic warm boozy wonder is a true Swedish delight. Scandinavians consider this mulled wine as an important traditional drink for the holiday season. This feisty drink keeps you warm & fuzzy and adds to the flavours of the festive season.

Ingredients

  • 5 (750 milliliter) bottles port wine
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle 100 proof bourbon whiskey
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle white rum
  • 3 whole cardamom pods, cracked
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 (3 inch) strip of orange peel
  • 1 (8 inch) square of cheesecloth
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) package dark raisins
  • 1 (6 ounce) package blanched slivered almonds

Directions

  1. Heat the port wine over medium heat until just below the simmer point in a large stockpot with a lid. Add bourbon and rum, and bring back to just below simmering. Save the bottles and their caps for storing leftover glogg.
  2. While the wine and liquors are heating, place the cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves, and orange peel onto the centre of the square of cheesecloth. Gather together the edges of the cheesecloth, and tie with kitchen twine to secure.
  3. When the mixture is very hot but not boiling, carefully light it with a long-handled match. Wearing a heatproof cooking mitt, carefully pour the sugar into the flames, and let the mixture burn for 1 minute. Put the lid on the stockpot to extinguish the flames, and turn off the heat. Let the mixture cool, covered, for about 10 minutes; add the cheesecloth bundle of spices and the raisins and almonds to the warm wine mixture and let it cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

As the spirit of Christmas knocks on your door, make sure to celebrate it with these traditional festive drinks from around the world!

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Interesting Facts About Alcohol You Didn’t Know About

Alcohol remains one of the most consumed beverages in the world. But do you know all that you need to know about alcohol? Let’s take you through a quick list of interesting facts about alcohol you probably didn’t know about.

Alcohol takes about six minutes to reach the brain

Yes, that is the time alcohol takes to reach your brain cells. According to the researchers, the link between alcohol consumption and rapid changes in the brain cells was established!

Etymology of alcohol

The origin of the word ‘alcohol’ was first traced to mid 16th century when it initially meant a ‘fine powder from distillation’. The word has its roots in Arabic word ‘al-kuḥl’ and ‘alcool’ in French.

What does the world like to drink?

More than 45% of alcohol consumed is in the form of spirits, next comes beer at nearly 36%. Consumption of wine in Europe is the highest in the world and alcohol is illegal in the Middle East.

Highest consumption

This one might come as a bit of a shocker but the Czech Republic is the highest beer consuming nation, leaving the Germans far behind!

Moldova and Belarus are the countries with the highest alcohol consumption in the world.

Per capita consumption of alcohol in Moldova is 17.4 litres closely followed by Belarus at 17.1 litres.

Which is the strongest?

Bottled at 95%ABV, Spirytus Rektyfikowany which is the rectified spirit from Poland remains the strongest spirit in the world. It is recommended to not be consumed neat and mostly used as base alcohol for liqueurs.

‘Snake Venom’ by Scottish brewery Brewmeister is the world’s strongest beer with 67.5% ABV.

Earliest consumption

The earliest consumption of fermented beverages is recorded to have developed around Neolithic Age about 1000 years ago.

How many grapes make a wine bottle?

It takes about 600-800 grapes to make that bottle of wine.

Bubbles in a bubbly

There are about one million bubbles in a champagne flute.

Pressure in a bottle

There is three times more air pressure in your champagne than in your car tyre, quite literally and interestingly!

Alcohol and body temperature

Alcohol does not warm your body, it dilates the blood vessels under your skin which makes the blood flow shunt closer to the periphery.

Alcohol and manometer

Alcohol is used in manometers because it has a low vapour pressure which more accuracy can be maintained in pressure difference.

Mercury vs alcohol

The earliest glass thermometer used during the 1600s contained alcohol instead of mercury!

Human body produces alcohol

Surprised? Yes, it’s true and it is called ‘Auto-Brewery Syndrome’. It is a condition in which a certain bacteria present in the gut produces yeast which is similar to ‘Saccharomyces’ or ‘brewer’s yeast’.

Alcohol cannot be digested

Alcohol can’t be digested because it gets directly passed on to the bloodstream.

Alcohol cravings

Dipsomania is a term which describes the excessive cravings for alcohol.

Alcohol for sustenance

So the fact goes like this, a human body requires thirteen essential minerals to sustain and guess what, all thirteen can be found in alcohol!

Muscular means less drunk

And this holds true as well! The more muscle mass a person has, the higher the tolerance for alcohol as compared with a person with more body fats. Muscle has more water hence the alcohol gets diluted.

One beer or one vodka shot?

One beer is equal to one vodka shot and one glass of wine.

Milkshake and alcohol

During 1885, the word ‘milkshake’ implied eggnog-like beverage which was originally made from whisky and over the centuries, the meaning obviously changed.

Alcohol is a disinfectant

Alcohol kills bacteria which is why it can be used as disinfectant and sterilizer.

Alcohol ban for Russian women

Consumption of alcohol was banned for Russian women under the reign of Empress Catherine, the men, however, could drink!

Hope you had an enjoyable time reading about these interesting facts!

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