Who doesn’t like a good drink after a filling meal? Or perhaps, a nightcap to take off the nerves for something? I even like using certain liqueurs and alcohol to cook delicious meals.
This is exactly the case for cognac, which is a fantastic spirit both for drinking and cooking. Some may not have tried it, but once you do, you won’t regret it. Still, this beverage isn’t cheap, and using it may not be ideal at all times, so you should know what alternatives to use.
What Is Cognac?
This alcoholic beverage is a specific type of brandy, which is produced from distilled white wine. For cognac to be ready, it is distilled twice through copper pot stills, and it is then aged in French oak barrels for at least two years.
Cognac can be classified as follows:
- V.S.: very special with a minimum of two years of aging.
- V.S.O.P.: very superior old pale, with a minimum of four years of aging.
- X.O.: extra-old, which is aged for at least six years.
When it comes to drinking it, cognac is enjoyed neat or with a few drops of water. Younger cognacs are good for mixed drinks or cooking. Depending on its age, cognac can taste sweet, fruity, spicy, and bitter.
Why Replace Cognac, Anyway?
There are many reasons why cognac would need to be replaced. Here are some:
- Cost: Cognac is not always affordable for everyone, and it can be very hard to find anything within budget. Buying this spirit just doesn’t seem appropriate for some when it is only going to be used for cooking.
- Alcohol-Free Diet: Some people don’t drink alcohol, so it is out of the question to use cognac.
- Flavor: There are cases when the flavor of this alcoholic drink is too strong, and it should be replaced for something lighter.
What Can I Replace Cognac With?
Whether you want a non-alcoholic choice, a new flavor, or something entirely different, these cognac substitutes are great for each of your needs:
Best For Cocktails, Beef Bourguignon, and Cooking
Since cognac is a type of brandy, it makes sense to use this spirit in its place. Brandy means “burnt wine”, but it is now a delicate spirit that has been aged for some time.
You can certainly replace cognac with brandy when you cook things like beef bourguignon, steak, or when you make cocktails.
The flavor of brandy is fruity, sweet, and slightly oaky. You can find all sorts of flavored brandy, from cherry to peach or vanilla, but make sure to pick a non-flavored kind to use instead of cognac.
Bourbon is another great option to substitute for cognac, but it is much stronger, so consider using about ⅓ of the amount.
This choice is relatively easy to find, but make sure you pick a non-flavored bourbon or a vanilla one, which can help mimic the sweetness of cognac better. Use bourbon when you prepare meat dishes, sauces, gravy, and cocktails.
You can mix a little bit of brown sugar or vanilla extract with the bourbon to reduce the sharpness of this beverage. Unfortunately, this choice isn’t suitable for those that want a non-alcoholic meal or drink.
Because cognac is made from grapes, wine is a great option to substitute it with. The type of wine depends solely on what you are preparing. Red wine is good for cooking meat dishes, like beef bourguignon, but for sauces or desserts, a fruity white wine may be a better choice.
Use wine when you prepare all sorts of dishes, but remember to taste it before you add it, as some are dry, others are fruity, and some can be too sweet. Avoid wines that are too dry or peppery, because they will change the flavor profile too much.
See More: White Wine Substitutes
Best For Gravy, Deglazing, and Steak Au Poivre
#4. Cooking Wine + Sugar
If you prefer a non-alcoholic choice, using a cooking wine is the perfect choice. Use about ¼ cup of cooking wine and two teaspoons of brown sugar for every ½ cup of cognac that the recipe indicates.
This choice is great for deglazing, desserts, gravy, and steak au poivre, so you can use it in various situations without a problem.
Cooking wine is relatively tart but also slightly sweet, so if you think that is enough sweet, don’t add the sugar to your dish. Use the cooking wine with enough time so that the flavors develop well.
See More: Brown Sugar Substitution
#5. Fruit Juice
When it comes to using another non-alcoholic choice, fruit juice is the most affordable and easier one. Picking the flavor of the juice is truly up to you, but some good options include apricot, peach, apple, or pear.
If you need to replace cognac, we suggest you use about half the amount of juice since it can be overly sweet.
Fruit juice works well when you make desserts, sauces, in deglazing, and even in gravy. If you feel like you need a bit more acid, you can add a little cooking vinegar or wine as well, but make sure to cook with enough time.
Using dark rum is not a terrible idea when it comes to replacing cognac. Use rum when you prepare gravy, steak au poivre, desserts, and in deglazing. You should add only about ⅓ of rum for the amount of cognac that the dish requires.
We recommend that you start small, taste, and add more if you want because rum is very strong. Keep in mind as well that rum can be a little sweeter than other choices, so you may need to balance out the rest of the ingredients.
See more: Rum Shelf Life
Yes, you can use wine instead of cognac and vice versa. Because cognac is made from wine, it has a somewhat similar flavor and aroma. However, you’ll want to choose what type of wine carefully and always use a non-flavored cognac.
Cognac is similar to brandy, whiskey, and some port wine. You may want to choose what liquor to use instead of cognac based on the dish you are preparing and the level of sweetness you need.
Yes, whiskey can be replaced for cognac and vice versa. Whiskey is sharper and more astringent but in cooking and making certain drinks, cognac can work in its place. The same is true when you need to substitute cognac, but make sure to measure how much whiskey you use.
Cognac is a complex and delicate spirit, one that some love having as a digestif. However, many cooking and cocktail recipes include cognac as an ingredient. If you need a replacement, any of these six options are easy to find and result in delicious flavor.
*image by depositphotos.com/Alexander_Ku