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Cognac, Cigars And Suez

Cognac, Cigars and Suez

Don’t let the title throw you, we’re not going to discuss the Suez Canal.

(Although it’s a fascinating subject.)

Lady Clarissa Eden, wife of Sir Anthony Eden, said in the mid 50s, during the crisis, “I felt sometimes that the Suez Canal was flowing through my drawing room.”

In honor of National Cognac week, (okay, it had a day last week) I thought I’d pay homage to this distinctive “Digestif” and the ritual it helped inspire.

Namely, men with their cognacs and cigars being left to their manly discussions, (tablecloth usually removed), women repairing to the drawing room to discuss how wonderful it was that they’ve finally got rid of them.

A ritual that probably kept a lot of marriages going.

Unfortunately, the men would rejoin the women in the drawing room (or parlor in America, salon in France) probably ruining everything.

So what happened to this tradition that began when after dinner drinks were invented? And concentrated alcoholic beverages were known in ancient Greece and Rome.

The drawing room, from a term meaning withdrawing chamber, eventually became the living room and television replaced talk.

Factor in that men have been forced to smoke cigars in the backyard or on a terrace, no matter the temperature, and that women are now able to discuss issues like “Suez,” and there you have it.

Since we’ve solved that, let’s discuss cognac.

Oddly enough we tend to drink it neat, while the French now tend to throw all sorts of mixers into it.

Cognac is named after the town of Cognac and is the most famous variety of brandy that is produced in the wine-growing region surrounding the town of the same name.

According to French Law, in order to be Cognac, the production methods must meet defined legal requirements, ensuring strict conformity with a 300-year old production process.

It must be made from at least 90% Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche or Colombard grapes and distilled twice in copper pot stills, aged at least two years in French oak barrels from Limousin or Tronçais.

Although most cognacs are aged considerably longer than the minimum legal.

Fine cognac, (some collectors pay over $100,000 for rare bottles) still remains an exceedingly nice way to end a meal.

Even if it’s not as ceremonial as it used to be.

We can discuss this egregious loss from whatever room in the residence you are currently in.

At the very least, we can muse about after dinner drinks. Or a fine cigar.

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