The Best Glassware to Get the Most Out of Your Cognac

Photo: xfotostudio (Getty Images).

The history of Cognac is as rich and varied as the spirit itself. From old world Europe, Cognac quickly spread around the world, from Asia to the Americas, Africa to Australia.

“As time progressed, Cognac was seen in many countries and was incorporated into many different cultures,” says Jordan Bushell, Head of Mixology and Brand Education at Hennessy. In 1860, Napoleon the 3rd signed a free-trade agreement with England. Consequently, English sales of Cognac tripled and they brought Cognac to all parts of the world.

Also: Perfect Pairings: Cognac and Cigars

Today, Cognac is back on the rise thanks to the unprecedented growth in the brown spirits category, as well as a resurgence of classic cocktails and a rise in mixology around the country.  Cognac is at the base for many of the iconic, classic cocktails (such as the Sidecar) that many people are now enjoying, and the best way to enjoy them is with the proper glassware.

What is the Best Way to Drink Cognac? 

Many of us have the image of the distinguished gentleman in a smoking jacket, cigar in one hand, massive snifter of cognac in the other as he sits pensively before a roaring fire. While this is a perfectly fine way to enjoy cognac, it’s also entirely unnecessary.

Cognac is great out of any glass that will allow for the full expression of the spirit’s notes. Further dispelling the “cognac is fancy” myth is the fact that it’s also incredible in cocktails. The original Sazerac cocktail, the “official” cocktail of New Orleans, was originally made with cognac, rather than rye whiskey.

Cognac is a versatile spirit and can be enjoyed a variety of ways – neat, on the rocks or in a cocktail. “Cognac has a deep-rooted history in cocktails, the original Mint Julep was made with Cognac,” says Bushell. The easiest answer for someone asking how to drink cognac would be: over ice if you want, neat if you like, or in a cocktail if that’s your thing. No one should tell you how to drink anything, let alone cognac.

What Is The Best Glassware To Drink Cognac With?

“The ideal glassware for Cognac depends on the drink itself,” says Bushell. You can use a rocks glass, a large wine glass, a Collins glass or another glass of your choosing.

cr_infographic_glassware_for_cognac_r01-INTERIOR“For example, Hennessy X.O is wonderful served in a large wine glass over three rocks with a splash of water – the ice reveals the blend’s purity and its subtle yet invigorating spicy notes, and the large wine glass allows the blend to breathe.”

Glasses And Their Uses

Tulip Glass

Ask any cognac expert what glass you should use to sample the spirit and they will likely tell you the tulip glass. The design of the tulip glass allows the spirit to open up more than most glasses because of the large surface area. Its shape makes for the best way to get the most aroma as well, thereby creating the perfect sensory experience.


Also known as a balloon glass or brandy glass, the snifter is probably the glass you imagine when you think about cognac. This is definitely more commonly used than the tulip glass, but aficionados consider this to be the lesser of the two. It has a short stem and an extremely wide opening that gets smaller as you get closer to the tip. It’s designed to concentrate aroma and add to the overall flavor of the cognac.

Rocks Glass

If you don’t own any of the aforementioned glasses, don’t go out and buy them. If you already have a rocks glass, go ahead and use it. Nobody is going to judge you here. Plus, if you’re planning to make a cocktail the other two glasses wouldn’t really make much sense. A rocks glass is also great if you want to add some water or an ice cube to open the spirit up.