Pasta night is always good for the soul. And with the holidays around the corner, it’s time to up your comfort game. Instead of reaching for your tried and true white wine, we recommend pairing a creamy, vegetable-rich pasta dish with a sparkling cognac cocktail. We often enjoy brandy as the follow-up to a great meal. And while it’s true that cognac is typically sipped as a digestif, this grape-derived brandy is a smooth addition to cocktails. In fact, if you’re new to the world of cognac, trying it in a cocktail is the perfect place to start.
When considering cognac-based cocktails, keep an eye out for cognacs that fall into the VSOP category. This Very Special Old Pale designation (sometimes known as Reserve) indicates that the cognac was aged for a minimum of four years. Our cognac of choice is Courvoisier® VSOP, a blend of several crus including Fins Bois, Grande and Petite Champagnes. And it pairs beautifully with traditional Champagne in a splendid Sparkling Cognac cocktail.
The Cocktail Project’s Sparkling Cognac cocktail’s fruity and lightly sweet flavors make it a perfect pairing for a veggie-filled pasta with a creamy sauce and plenty of Parmesan cheese. While Champagne by itself tends to be delicate, the addition of cognac stands up to earthier ingredients like mushrooms and asparagus, and elevates the vegetal and umami notes of the dish.
The Cocktail Project is a great resource for all of your food pairings, with hundreds of recipes curated by career bartenders.
Sparkling Cognac Recipe
- 1/2 part Courvoisier® VSOP Cognac
- 1 sugar cube
Add cognac and sugar cube in a coupe glass.
Top off with champagne.
Penne with Asparagus Recipe
- 1 pound thin asparagus
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
- Freshly ground pepper
- 3 medium shallots, minced
- 3/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
- 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 pounds penne rigate
- 1 1/2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat a cast-iron grill pan. Brush the asparagus with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus over high heat, turning, until it is lightly charred and very tender, about 6 minutes. Cut the asparagus into 1-inch lengths.
In a very large, deep skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the shiitake, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring once or twice, until the mushrooms are golden and tender, about 8 minutes. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Simmer until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water.
Add the pasta to the skillet along with the asparagus, peas and grated cheese and toss well. Add the reserved pasta water and simmer, tossing, until the pasta is nicely coated. Season the pasta with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley. Serve right away.
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