There’s immediate brand recognition when people hear the name Hennessy. For many generations, the brand has been associated with a refined sipping experience. Yet not everybody is aware that Hennessy is a cognac—and that cognac is a region-specific brandy that’s been twice-distilled from select grape varietals. Observing the brown spirit surge and an increased interest in thoughtful drinks, we delved in and learned about Hennessy’s diversity. Specifically, with Hennessy Black (their five-years-aged release which debuted in 2010) we found something dynamic and delightful. It’s smooth enough to sip neat, but also—perhaps surprisingly—is a great component in cocktails. At its core, Hennessy Black is a premium mixing spirit.
To explore the depths of Hennessy Black’s capabilities, we met with cocktail specialist Tomas Delos Reyes who brought us a handful of cocktail recipes to try. Reyes expertly taught us how to make them and we replicated the process at home. The Flor de Jamaica (pronounced huh-my-ka) drew our attention for two reasons: its use of hibiscus and the special syrup one has to make first. While it may seem complex, it isn’t—and the result is joyfully refreshing, especially on a summer afternoon. It’s a true showcase of Hennessy Black’s character and caliber.
Flor de Jamaica
.5 oz Fresh lemon juice
.75 oz Hibiscus syrup*
2 oz Hennessy Black
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake all ingredients over ice, and serve on the rocks in a tumbler glass. Garnish with an edible orchid. To make your own hibiscus syrup in advance, steep hibiscus for a few hours in water (beginning with hot water, but letting it cool naturally over time)—until there’s a rich color and floral fragrance. Thicken the hibiscus tea concoction with raw cane sugar, in a ratio of one cup sugar to one cup water—as is the norm when making simple syrup. Season with Mexican cinnamon to taste.
Hennessy Black is available for purchase online and nationwide.
Images by David Graver