14 Best Cognac Substitutes | Alcoholic & Non-Alcoholic

Cognac

It is a fine Saturday night, and you are craving a perfect beverage to chill. You run to your liquor cabinet, pining for a sip of cognac, and you find out you have none. Desperate and depressed? You did well by clicking this article because we are discussing cognac substitutes today. 

Cognac is an alcoholic beverage made from distilled grape wine and aged for a minimum of two years. It is strictly restricted to the Cognac region in France and has ample restrictions on its production. Duh.

Precisely for this reason, it is incredibly hard to find and expensive. You then need a couple of substitutes for cognac. Got any ideas? Some of the best cognac substitutes are brandy, whiskey, sherry, Armagnac, rum, and wine.

The fact that cognac comes after a long time of aging must give you an idea of its delicious taste. This makes cognac a perfect choice for drinking as well as for cooking! It can be used in sweet as well as savory recipes. 

So, what happens when you don’t find it in your cabinet? You may not want to disappoint yourself or your guests coming over. Hop on for a quick journey to France before I get you the list of substitutes.

Quick Peek: Cognac

Cognac

The following scribbles tell you what cognac is, its flavor, texture, culinary uses, and health benefits.

What Is Cognac?

Cognac is a brandy variety produced in the Cognac region, France. Our French comrades use grapes selectively (from Charente and Charente-Maritime regions) to prepare this magical brew. 

It has an AOC désignation (appellation d’origine contrôlée) which means someone is watching to test if cognac fulfills the production and naming requirements.

Cognac and its Labels

Every bottle of cognac has to have 40% alcoholic content. It ages for about two years in oak barrels. You know the rule when it comes to wine; the longer it ages, the merrier it tastes. Cognac is labeled based on the number of years it takes rest as given below:

VS – Very Special; aged for a minimum of two years.

VSOP – Very Superior Old Pale; aged for a minimum of four years.

XO – Extra Old; aged for at least six years.

Describing Cognac: Flavor and Texture

Cognac is basically brandy that is made from grapes. It has an authentic, distinctive flavor that is indeed hard to replace. Its flavor profile combines sweet, spicy, bitter, and fruity flavors. It gives an incredible mouthfeel and has a velvety texture. 

Uses of Cognac

Cognac comes in a color range of amber to orange to deep brown and copper. It has a sweet, robust, and floral flavor. Apart from being a delicious delight to drink as an aperitif or digestif, cognac is used as a sweetener in sweet and savory recipes.  

Cognac on The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Cognac is filled with many helpful antioxidants and can enhance heart functioning. It is good for lowering the risk of gallstones and several respiratory infections. It lowers blood pressure and is useful in combating sore throats.

All this is true if you follow mediocrity, of course. 

Why Should We Substitute Cognac?

It is always wise to know about the substitutes for our favorite foods and drinks. You never know when the stars turn against you. Cognac, a unique beverage, is incredibly hard to find and is fairly expensive. 

You simply can’t buy a bottle of cognac by using a few drops in your recipe. This makes it imperative to find the best substitutes for cognac. With no further talk, let us get into the substitutes for cognac right away. 

14 Best Cognac Substitutes 

The fourteen best cognac substitutes are as follows:

Alcoholic Substitutes For Cognac

1. Brandy

Brandy

Cognac and brandy fall in the same line as alcoholic beverages. They are essentially the same except for the differences in naming and production. That is, Cognac is a variety of brandy. You can boldly swap Cognac with brandy, and no one will be able to tell the difference. 

Make sure the brandy you use is not flavored (apple or peach). Brandy has a sweet, fruity flavor with hints of oak. Thus, brandy becomes the easily available and closest alternative to cognac.

If you have brandy, you can also use it make some delicious apple brandy. Here is how you can make apple brandy at home.

2. Whiskey

Whiskey

Whiskey is another best alternative to cognac. It has a nutty, malty flavor since it is produced from grain mash fermentation. Thus, it has a strong, sharp, bitter-sweet flavor.

While choosing to replace cognac with whiskey, make sure to start off with less quantity. It is not a recommended substitute when it comes to cocktail recipes.

Do you want to make a citrusy whiskey cocktail. Here is the recipe for the best orange whiskey sour. Do give it a try!

3. Sherry

Sherry

Sherry is a Spanish fortified wine made using grapes. The name sherry comes from the region Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia in Spain. Sherry is the anglicization of Jerez. It has a rich taste with overtones of sweetness. 

With alcoholic levels between 18% and 20%, sherry makes an excellent alternative to cognac in savory dishes and desserts. Maybe this is the reason it’s called cooking wine!

4. Armagnac

Armagnac

Armagnac, the French pal of cognac, is distilled wine quite known for its rich, robust, dry flavor with higher alcohol content. It is a column-distilled wine, distilled twice, unlike cognac, which is distilled only once. 

Armagnac has a thicker, viscous texture than Cognac. There is a similarity in the flavor profiles both these beverages share. Even then, Armagnac can be used fruitfully in savory recipes to replace cognac.

5. Rum

Rum

Rum is obtained after the fermentation and distillation of sugarcane or molasses. It has a rich, sweet flavor with 40% alcohol content. 

Go for dark rum to substitute cognac in savory dishes. When used in sweet recipes, there might be a change in flavor which has to be adjusted well according to your preferences.

Make most of your bottle of rum and use it to make cakes. Here is the recipe for rum cake.

6. Wine

White Wine

Wine, the alcoholic beverage obtained from fermented grapes, can be the last resort to substitute cognac. Wines are not excessively expensive and easily available.

The prime ingredient or base of both Cognac and Wine is the same; grapes. This makes it comparatively easier to interchange them in recipes.

Then why did I deem it to be the last resort? Wines come in different flavors and intensities. White wine can be used to replace cognac in desserts and sauces.

Other wines have added concentrated flavors, which have to be chosen carefully lest the taste of your food is altered. Interested in wine? Here is a detailed process of how you can produce wine. Give it a read!

7. Port Wine

Port Wine

Port wine comes to us all the way from Portugal. It is a fortified wine – that is, the vinification process involves the addition of a neutral distillate. It has a higher alcohol content than other unfortified wines.

Port wine has a sweet flavor, due to which it is usually considered a dessert wine. Full-bodied port wine can be used to replace cognac due to its sweet flavor.

8. Bourbon

Bourbon

Bourbon is the whiskey from the Americas, which is produced by distilling a blend of grains, mostly corn, and aged in oak barrels. It has a unique, sweet, and earthy flavor. 

The robust flavor of bourbon can be used to substitute for cognac. Bourbon is available in both flavored and unflavored varieties. You can opt for an unflavored one if you don’t want intense sweetness.

9. Calvados

Calvados

Calvados is a distilled brandy made using selective apples. Similar to cognac, it can only be produced in Normandy, France, and has an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) status.

Around 200 varieties of apple are used for the making of calvados which is more than enough to tell you about its flavor profile. Sometimes, pears are also used.

Calvados has many flavors based on the apples used – it can be sweet, acidic, bitter, and bitter-sweet. The fruity flavor of calvados can replace cognac to a little extent. 

10. Coffee Liqueur

Coffee Liqueur

Coffee liqueur is as simple as it sounds – a shot of liqueur mixed with coffee. Cream and sugar are added to balance the sharp flavor of the alcohol. Coffee liqueur has a sweet, syrupy flavor.

The sweet flavor of coffee liqueur can be a good alternative for cognac in baking recipes.

Non-Alcoholic Substitutes for Cognac

Here are a few non-alcoholic substitutes for Cognac. You can use them if you want that Cognac-like flavor in your food without the alcohol.

1. Fruit Juice

Fruit Juices

Fruit juices are the versatile non-alcoholic option to replace Cognac. You can use juices of grape, apple, peach, pear, or apricot to replace Cognac.

Watch the sugar content in your juices – you don’t want to ruin your dish with too much sweetness. In that case, add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for the acidic tang that Cognac would bring in.

2. Brandy Extract

Brandy Extract in a spoon

Well, don’t be misled by the name. Brandy extract has been prominently used as it is fully devoid of alcohol but full of intense, brandy flavor.

The concentrated brandy flavor can be suitably used to swap Cognac in cocktails, desserts, and baking recipes. 

3. Soy Sauce

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a Chinese liquid condiment made using soybean, wheat, salt, and a fermenting agent. It has a sweet, umami flavor with bitter notes. It is available in two varieties – light soy sauce and dark soy sauce.

Soy sauce is not a much-recommended alternative for cognac. But it can be tried with a pinch in replacing cognac in cooking recipes.

4. Cooking Wine and Sweetener

Cooking Wine and Sweetener

The combination of cooking wine and a sweetener can work as a fine substitute for cognac. Cooking wine, when heated, loses the alcoholic content in it.

If the wine is not sweet in flavor, you can use brown sugar to emulate the flavor of cognac. This can be used as a substitute for cognac in gravies and desserts.

Short Recap

If that was a long read, go through the points below to remember the details on cognac substitutes instantly.

Alcoholic Substitutes: Brandy, whiskey, sherry, Armagnac, rum, and wine are the best alcoholic substitutes for cognac

Non-alcoholic: Fruit juices, brandy extract, soy sauce, cooking wine are the best non-alcoholic substitutes for cognac

Final Musings

Swapping cognac is not a difficult task as long as you know the perfect alternatives (which I guess you do now). Use them according to your meal preferences, and thank me later for all the deliciousness you relish.

What do you think is the best substitute for cognac? Do tell me your opinion in the comments. Merry drinking, folks!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the substitute for Cognac in baking?

Brandy, wine, bourbon and fruit juice are the substitutes for cognac in baking.

What is a substitute for cognac in beef bourguignon?

Brandy is the best substitute for cognac in beef bourguignon.

What is the substitute for cognac in French onion soup?

Red wine vinegar and sherry are the best substitutes for cognac in French onion soup.

Why do people cook with cognac?

Cognac is used in cooking to perk up the flavor of sweet and savory dishes. 

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