How To: Cooking with Cognac


By Simon McGoram

Photography by Rob Palmer

Presented by Mike Lowe
The Roosevelt
32 Orwell Street, Potts Point, Sydney

I do have the odd drink at home and occasionally even whip up a cocktail. But I have to admit that mixing drinks often feels too much like work on my days off. Now if I really want to unwind on a Sunday it’s by cooking – a creative outlet that many bartenders not only enjoy but often excel at.


Of course there’s no reason why booze and cooking shouldn’t mix. Cognac and other brandies have a long tradition of culinary uses in European cuisine. It’s a fantastic spirit for deglazing pans and enhancing the flavour of sauces, soups and consommés. It works a treat in desserts too particularly in intensifying dishes containing apple or stone fruits.

With cherries at their fresh best right now we thought it prudent to offer you a great recipe to preserve them and squirrel them away for the winter months. It’s fairly quick and easy but produces great results. Apart from the cherries themselves being a great garnish for cocktails, the liquor is a flavoursome addition that can be used as an ingredient itself in drinks or desserts.

It’s time to get organised then. In a reasonably steady bar you’ll easily go through one kilogram of cherries (fresh uncooked weight) per week. So you’ll need at least 30 large jars to last you till November. Avoid using jars too large for you to go through in a week. If you take care to sterilise and create a vacuum seal on your jars and store these in a cool, dark, dry place you shouldn’t be forced to resort to those nasty radioactive maraschino cherries until you can create a new batch next summer.

If you do become worried about a batch spoiling the answer is simple – add more booze.


Notes on Ingredients

  • The Australian cherry season is fairly short – just from November to February, though the best months for local cherries are December and January.
  • The English name ‘cherry’ evolved from the French, cerise, after the Norman Conquest in 1066. Cerise in turn comes from the latin, cerasum. This term is likely to be related to the name of a city in Asia Minor (Turkey), called Cerasus, which was known for its abundance of cherries. It is believed that it was cherries from Cerasus that were first imported to Europe.
  • There are over 900 different varieties of cherries including over 300 varieties of sour cherry.
  • Cherries were introduced to England at the command of Henry VIII, who had tasted them in Flanders – probably whilst out scouting for a new wife.
  • Madeira is a fortified Portuguese wine made in the Madeira Islands – about 870 kilometres west of Morocco’s Casablanca. A fine rich madeira is perfect for this recipe.
  • Make sure your jars are sterilised with plenty of boiling water or brewers’ steriliser to increase the shelf life of your cherries.
  • Sealing the cherries in the jar whilst still hot will create a vacuum as the contents cool to further protect them from spoiling.

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