It’s the merriest, most social — and potentially the most chaotic — time of the year. With all of the season’s gatherings, celebrations, and cheerful catch-ups comes an expectation not to show up empty-handed. In lieu of wine or bubbly as your dinner party favor or go-to gift this year, a Cognac like Rémy Martin XO makes a less obvious, more special choice. We spoke to Julia Momosé, a Chicago-based bartender and author of the book “The Way of the Cocktail: Japanese Traditions, Techniques, and Recipes,” about why Rémy Martin XO makes the perfect holiday gift.
“First and foremost, it’s absolutely delicious,” Momosé tells VinePair of the Cognac. “It’s a testament to the time and care that’s placed into making it, and I love how that’s evident from the moment you’re taking in the aromatics.”
Rémy Martin XO Showcases the Complex Taste of Luxury
Rémy Martin is known for its luxurious Cognac, and XO is the most iconic of all. As the cellar master’s signature blend of hundreds of eaux-de-vie, Rémy Martin XO features classic Cognac flavors with a complexity that sets it apart. “Often with Cognac, you talk about the fruitiness of it, the vanilla notes and coffee notes and caramel,” Momosé says, “but there’s also a little bit of this earthy, savory edge that I love, and a longer, lingering finish, which is really outstanding.”
Rémy Martin XO would make an opulent gift at any time of year, but it’s ideal as a holiday gift or chilly-weather companion due to its warm flavors.
“It’s got a lot of cinnamon spice, and this earthy saffron note that I think is really beautiful and warming and something that I personally crave this time of year,” Momosé says. “I think that plays really well with this season, whether you’re sipping it on its own or if you want to mix it in some cocktails too. It has all of the makings for a great base for classic cocktails, with the spice notes, the woodsy character, the vanilla notes, and then that really beautiful, delicate, fruity, and floral high tone.”
Rémy Martin XO Classes Up Classic Cocktails
Some people might find it counterintuitive to mix Cognac into a cocktail. Rémy Martin’s recommendation is to drink the XO Cognac neat, with ice, or mixed with water, sugar, and Angostura bitters into an Old Fashioned (or its variations). But Momosé says the high-quality Cognac lends itself well to more complex and unexpected cocktails too. “Some people might be hesitant to mix with an XO Cognac,” she says, “but I find that the better the spirits you’re working with, the better the cocktails.”
One of Momosé’s all-time favorite cocktails is a Vieux Carré, which blends Cognac and rye whiskey with Bénédictine, sweet vermouth liqueur, and Peychaud’s bitters. The name Vieux Carré means “old square,” a reference to New Orleans’ French quarter — which speaks to the cocktail’s sophisticated blend of French and American influence. “The complexity of this Cognac really stands out in that drink,” Momosé says.
She also recommends mixing Rémy Martin XO into another New Orleans-born cocktail, the Sazerac. The somewhat dressed-up cousin of the classic Old Fashioned, the Sazerac blends Cognac or rye whiskey with New Orleans’ own Peychaud’s bitters, a sugar cube, and a little absinthe. “These days, we often see Sazerac cocktails made with rye whiskey, but I actually really love it with Cognac instead,” Momosé says. “For the holidays, a Cognac Sazerac would be a really tasty treat.”
A glass of Rémy Martin XO would be well suited to a quiet night at home, whether as a complement to some “me time” or a toast to a romantic night in with a partner. But the Cognac also suits more celebratory occasions, like a Christmas Eve soirée or a New Year’s dinner party. “I think that when there is a special bottle, it’s best enjoyed with a small gathering of friends,” Momosé says.
The Gift of Rémy Martin XO Is Deluxe and Delicious
Holiday gifts call for a little extra sparkle and glamour, but that doesn’t mean they should exist as mere showpieces. Momosé says Rémy Martin XO delivers some ritz your loved ones will actually want to reach for. “I think [it’s an excellent gift] from the standpoint of quality,” she says, “and it’s delicious, [so] hopefully, people won’t hesitate to open and enjoy it.”
Her top tip for gifting Rémy Martin XO is to pair it with a notecard that encourages the recipient to open the bottle. She suggests writing about why you love the spirit or why it made you think of them. When gifting Rémy Martin XO herself, Momosé says she might include a recipe for a Vieux Carré or Sazerac cocktail, and a note pointing out that Cognac can also jazz up a steaming cup of coffee or tea.
“I find that it helps sometimes when gifting spirits to share little recipes, or [ways] you suggest they enjoy it, just to break the ice, in a sense, and to make it easier for them to crack the bottle open,” she says. “It’s meant to be enjoyed. Sharing a little how-to on the side gives it that personalized touch.”
Spread some warmth by giving the gift of Rémy Martin XO this year — and don’t forget to keep yourself warm, too, by picking up a bottle of your own.
This article is sponsored by Rémy Martin.