Warming this unexpected treat of the Drouet VSOP Cognac Grande Champagne, 40.3%, in my hand further rewards my patience by trumpeting unambiguously that acidic green apples are being sliced nearby with a rosewood-handled Damascus steel blade. They’re being cut in a clean linen closet that doubles, in the back, as the Moth Queen’s palace. There’s a controlled and somewhat surprising fire, as if your waiter unannounced brought out a subdued cherry pumpernickel flambé.
As longtime readers of our site blessed with near-photographic memory may recall, my first spirit love was cognac. I bowed out from it when soaring prices left me behind. Thus, as this simmers on my tongue like Picasso strumming a calypso beat on a Flamenco guitar—with steel drum accompaniment; thanks André Breton!—I’m Proust-like sent back to my (imaginary) days wandering the Latin Quarter, writing modernist poetry, drinking cheap wine in cafés and good cognac in the salons of my friends. That is to say, I get grilled lemons on brisket—how iconoclastic, Leo Stein!—with an acorn reduction sauce over burnt caramel ice cream.
The finish sends me forward into a Jules Verne future, and my consciousness is thereby stretched thin; plucked by Picasso, reverberating along my lips and upper palate, a long draining like a warm molten amber elegantly circling a drain crafted by artisanal ironmongers. This aspires to, and achieves, a classic cognac taste. The ideal is ultimately in its grasp, yet it knows that the secret of success is to let it go and admire from an increasing distance the way the whims, vicissitudes, and felicities of the world carve a unique destiny for it.
On the scale of things prosaic, yet magnificent, about Paris–
The Drouet VSOP Cognac Grande Champagne, 40.3%, is the Croque-Monsieur–It’s ubiquity from streetside purveyors means never need a traveler go far to sate the craving, and the quick panini-like pressing of the pain de mie around some jambon with cheese melted and toasted, oozing out…it’s enough to allow anyone to ignore the warnings of doctors about elevated LDL cholesterol. No statins for me! Just a steady diet of Croque-Monsieurs and the Drouet VSOP Cognac Grande Champagne! Your move, Proust.
–Our thanks to Raj Sabharwal and PVI Global for the sample!