Courvoisier Exclusif

July 29, 2010

Cognac, you guys. A regionally-named brandy distilled from white wine, traditionally served in bubble glasses. I used to think brandies were basically medicines for dog-loving skiiers, lovingly fetched in tiny neck barrels post-avalanche, but last week after attending a Courvoisier Exclusif tasting event, I learned the error of my ways.

My new take-home: Courvoisier is tasty, and tasting events are super-fun.

A group of Toronto bloggers convened at the Hyatt, arrayed in our finest brandy-tasting outfits. Mine included moderately-sensible shoes and an ankle brace due to a dodgeball injury.

Upon arrival there were tiny lollipop lambchops and a charming bartender making tangy Courvoisier sidecar cocktails. I considered it my journalistic duty to sample both of these offerings. Rating: yes.

As we took our seats, the entertainment began. A dude dressed like Napoleon careened around on stilts with several lovely empire-waisted maidens house-dancing around him.

There was a ceiling bulkhead and a large chandelier, so this was even more exciting with the added element of danger (pronounced donJAY, of course; cognac’s French).

Then time for a nosing. I’d never nosed before. Nosing involves opening little bottles of essential fragrance, dabbing them on perfume strips, guessing their identities by smell, then identifying those same aromatic notes in sips of cognac.

Ginger cookie, dried plums, and coffee were the key notes in one variety; crème brûlée, candied orange peel and iris flower in another.

If you think I concluded this portion of the evening by dabbing crème brûlée essential oil all over my body and demanding that others “SNIFF ME I’M FRENCH!”, then you would be incorrect, and what do you take me for.

If you think I didn’t imagine doing such a thing, though, it’s like you don’t know me at all and why do you even read this site.

Okay. By this point I’d nosed and tasted Courvoisier, both neat and in a sidecar. I was pertty certin I cd make a decilious cognoc dirnk too. Luckily the fine folks at the Park Hyatt had planned for just such an eventuality, and had arrayed the table with a spread of interesting cocktail ingredients.

I muddled apricot preserves, chopped ginger, and lemon, then added Courvoisier Exclusif, vanilla Galiano, and soda, all served in a sugar-rimmed glass. It made for a strong, sweet, tea-coloured cocktail that I thought would taste particularly good with breathing.

Others at my table combined ingredients like fresh blueberries, mint, maple syrup, and even chili flakes.

It sort of felt like a really sophisticated version of the cookie bake-offs on Just Like Mom (I always told my mother that if we ever ended up on that show I was just going to make perfect cookies, so she could expect mine to be the delicious ones, the very valedictorians of biscuitry, and then off we’d go to DisneyLand).

Soon, for some reason, there wasn’t much Courvoisier left in the bottle, and so the evening came to a giddy close.

I was pleased to note that the reputation of my blog has apparently spread far and wide, as I was hailed on my way out by a couple of internet cat ladies who proudly whipped out their smartphones and waved photos of their cat-babies in my face.

I would prefer to be known as a witty and debonaire gad-about-town, a sort of enormously-coiffed and slightly less femme Oscar Wilde, if you will, but frankly I’ll take my notoriety where I can get it, and I suppose being embraced as Queen of the Internerd Cat Ladies by some charming and Courvoisier-filled bloggers will also suffice.

That said, it wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t conclude by having a cat weigh in on all this. Helder’s cat Faustino was moderately interested in the Courvoisier I’d brought home, and extremely interested in sitting on the tissue paper that came inside my gift bag, so I think that counts as a pretty strong YES all around.

Thanks to Matchstick and Courvoisier for a lovely evening!


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