That blushing drink in the coupe glass at Coquette looks like a simple rosé, but at first nose you'll know it's not. In fact, it's a sly pour of Landy VS Cognac that's been stained with a blend of blackberry syrup and verjus.
For all its fruitiness, "In Vino Veritas" is deceptively dry and crisp, getting lots of acidity from the verjus, but the cognac's toasty citrus is clearly the star of this cocktail, and is a steady presence through the finish.
Though Coquette's bar manager, Jeff Schwartz, is grounded in the classics, he also likes to experiment: proof is in the 1-liter, oak-charred barrel he keeps behind the stick to age simple syrup, for example (which may or may not go into a Sazerac, mojito, or mint julep). The most promising concoctions end up in the 10-liter barrel he keeps on the bartop.
Back to Jeff's "In Vino Veritas" - in truth, it resembles a Pineau des Charentes, a fortified wine made from pressed grape must (including juice, skins, seeds) that's blended with cognac and then barrel-aged.
Pineau des Charentes often includes an interim fermentation that makes it sweet, while Jeff's cocktail has more of a from-the-vine freshness. It's not strictly a dessert cocktail, but it does pair beautifully with a last plate of chamomile-dusted vacherin and lemon sherbet, linked together with blackberry sauce.
Coquette, 2800 Magazine Street, 265.0421. Jeff has also built his own apple press to make soft (unfermented) cider; look out for it to be paired with spirits or in a mocktail later this autumn.
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