"Cognac is not just for Suits and Cigar Smokers"

Wednesday 13 January, 2016

It’s a recent thing, more than just a fling; in fact it could even be a long-lasting romance. We’re talking about Australia’s love affair with Cognac. It’s quickly becoming a cult leader in drinking trends, and, “Not just among ‘The Suits’ and ‘Cigar Smokers’”, as Charlie Lehmann, Owner of Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern in Sydney, puts it. 

Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern is Australia’s biggest seller of Martell Cognac, so spirited experts to say the least. We popped by their watering hole to get the lo-down from Lehmann on why Millennials, hen parties, and even active wearers are jumping on the cognac-fuelled bandwagon.

“Drinking in Sydney has changed over the last few years. Customer’s drinking habits are more refined. We get fewer orders of sweet, fruity cocktails, instead customers want stirred-down, older-style whiskey or gin-based cocktails with earthy flavours.”

 “We’re bringing Cognac back. We’re trying to do this in a really fun and cool way. Most people think Cognac drinkers are old dudes smoking cigars - that’s not the case. We’re bringing it back through shots and really refined cocktails.”

Who/what is influencing the Cognac Cult?

“It comes from people interacting with what we (Bartenders) put out on the scene. At the moment cognac is very much the ‘in-thing’, particularly with ‘the Suits’; when they see a trend, they jump on it. Our menu is heavily cognac-based because we want to make it known and get it under people’s palettes. We play around with cognac, have a lot of fun with it, and make it really approachable.”

Since 2008 more than 35 small bars have opened up across Sydney, many of which infuse cognac throughout their menu. 

“Small bars have really brought the classic cocktail and spirit scene back, and having these venues has created a fantastic drinking culture”, says Charlie. 

Best cognac-based seller?

“Cognac and fresh apple juice is one of our biggest sellers. Sazerack is another top seller and we’ve made this into a batch cocktail and have this on tap.” It was only a matter of time before the active wear, kale munching craze would spill into the bar and hospitality scene!


Localising the drinking culture

And if customers not are open to new drinks but cognac is a no-go, then Charlie and his clan encourage putting a local twist on a customer's order. “Depending on the guest we try and tailor to what they usually drink, and work from there. A lot of our products are Australian, so we try and encourage local spirits for customers who seem open to choice. For example, if a customer wants a vodka-based drink we would encourage the Archie Rose (Australian-made) vodka. All of our beers and wines (except champagne) are from Australia - nothing international in that sense.”

And for 2016?

We want to know if you think cognac is a current faze, or a long-lived craze? And of course we can’t help but wonder if a melody of Cognac and Kale will be the next big thing…


Heather Doherty


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