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  • Writer's picturealexispjordan

You Are Cordially Invited to the Bourgeois Cognac Tasting - A Celebration of Black Excellence

"Celebrating black beauty is a part of the revolution..." - Traces Ellis Ross


Photography and videography by @debonairvisuals and @stephterell




*Disclaimer - All participants were of legal drinking age and maintained responsibility in indulging in this evening’s activities. We highly encourage you to participate if you have a designated driver, or can establish a secured method to get home safely. Please be careful in your endeavors.



If you’ve ever wondered what the V.S.O.P. in cognac stood for, it is Very Superior Old Pale, and these cognacs have been aged for at a minimum of four years. With friendships for as short as approaching four years and as long as four years from a lifetime, there is no time requirement in the Very Superior relationships I have with some of the most incredibly talented, loyal, dedicated, and inspiring individuals that I can call family. We are Black beauty, and we are allowed to celebrate our excellence wholly and comfortably, we deserve it.


I have been blessed with parents that enjoy hosting and creating new experiences for their guests, and they have truly instilled their Bourgeois, hood-rich tendencies in me. As a cognac drinker for as long as I can remember, my father was incredibly excited when I told him I was hosting a Cognac Tasting and he could not have been more of a help to provide pairing ideas, types of cognacs, and insight on the best types of small plates to serve. He provided more ideas that I would love to try out, especially for dessert, but we’ll save those for next time ;)


For decor, to further celebrate our Black excellence, we utilized a black and gold theme of coasters, balloons, charger plates, silverware, etc., and paired these items with glassware. My mother is the decor queen, and, like me, lives for a good theme. I honored her by maintaining a classy yet impressive display without going “over the top” with any extra flash. Simplicity here, with accents, was key.




For drinks, we served four cognacs, with each person or couple responsible for providing a bottle. By implementing a potluck style, we were able to reduce the financial burden of the host/hostess, and all participants contributed equally. We enjoyed:


Courvoisier

Hennessy Privilegé

(or Hennessy Black if unavailable)

Remy Martin V.S.O.P.

D’usse Cognac V.S.O.P.




We paired these with additional accompaniments including:

Sparkling Wine

Coca Cola

Lemonade

Orange Juice

Cranberry Juice




We had options for the tasting and provided shot glasses for those who wanted to compare multiple cognacs at once, as well as full sized stemless red wine glasses for those who wanted to enjoy over ice or as a cocktail. Rather than utilizing cognac snifters, we used stemless red wine glasses in order to allow our inventory to be used for future events and many other uses, whether for drinks, dessert, or decor. With each wine glass garnished with a clementine and with the option of plenty of infused chocolate truffles available throughout the event (thanks for the tip, Dad!), our guests were able to enjoy a ton of cocktail combinations, such as:





Cranberry Champagne Bowler

Cognac (This also tasted amazing with Amaretto paired with the cognac)

Sparkling Wine (Brut)

Cranberry Juice






French 75

Cognac

Sparkling Wine (Brut)

Simple Syrup

Lemon Juice (Subbed for Orange)




Mini water bottles were provided and we responsibly ensured to continue to hydrate throughout the event.







With this being a casual evening, we went for a simple yet elegant spread. For small plates, we implemented a similar method of pairing options, including:


Fried Shrimp

Cajun Shrimp

Chicken Tenders

Herb Crusted Steak

Waffles

Biscuits

Assorted Butter, Jelly & Infused Sauces



The Herb Crusted Steak is another simple yet successful crowd fave that I’ve served in many occasions. This is such a fool-proof recipe and can be cubed for small plates or used for a filet for dinner. For the appetizer, simply cube your favorite cut of steak (we used NY strip) into bite sized pieces, and coat to season to taste with the following:


McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning (Low Sodium, the original does not allow the same ease to salt to taste)

Herbs de Provence (use half of the amount of other items to start and slowly build while cooking to taste, as this is potent!)

Garlic Powder

Onion Powder

Dried Parsley

Worcestershire Sauce (to taste)


You will also need during cooking:


2 Tablespoons Butter

1/2 Medium Vidalia Onion, Minced

2 Cloves Garlic, Minced


Melt one tablespoon of butter on medium heat and sauté the vidalia onions until translucent. Add the steak cubes and continue to cook for 5 minutes before adding the minced garlic. Continue to cook, stirring every 1-2 minutes until cooked to desired doneness.



Similarly, the Cajun Shrimp is a simple crowd fave, and is one of my go-to appetizers for events as well as for personal delight. We recommend serving peeled and deveined shrimp for your guests to access with ease of not removing the shell. This recipe included a tasty and lightly spicy blend courtesy of Dacy Dash’s Dear Dacy Caribbean Jerk seasoning with an added hint of brown sugar. You can implement a similar recipe by mixing equal parts of

Old Bay

Paprika

Cayenne Pepper

Turmeric (one teaspoon for added smokiness, if available)

Brown Sugar

We highly recommend grilling your shrimp whether outdoors or on the George Foreman, but it is still amazing if pan seared with butter as well.

We served these in bowls paired with appetizer picks so that the guests could enjoy with their cognac without the need to sit still or utilize utensils, but we provided them for the other accompaniments as well.



We also implemented retrieving the biscuits and chicken tenders from local restaurants, with some able to provide plenty of honey as well as grape and strawberry jelly, and we recommend supporting a local black-owned business if you are not up for preparing these items yourself. We served this on our tiered tray along with waffles (not pictured, this is the risk you run with implementing a potluck method lol).



We paired our biscuits and waffles with an assortment of infused sauces provided by our guests, who were willing to share the recipes, such as:


Cognac Syrup - This changed my life, okay! Simply mix a half cup of the cognac of your choice with one bottle of syrup and a splash or two of vanilla extract, heat on the stove top on medium heat for 10 minutes, heat longer if you want to remove all alcohol, stir continuously, dassit! This is going to be a staple in my household going forward.


Hennessy BBQ - This is also going to be a recurring recipe in my collection. This was incredibly full of flavor! For one bottle of barbecue sauce, add one cup of Hennessy, and 1.5 tbsp of tobacco flavoring


Hennessy Sriracha Ketchup - This had a slight spiciness and a tang that was super tasty, and can pair well with anything, I’m looking forward to adding this to my homemade air-fryer French fries. For one half bottle of ketchup, add one half cup of Hennessy, 1.5 tbsp of white vinegar, and 1.5 tbsp of sriracha


Hennessy Mustard - This was so smooth, such a fantastic rendition for mustard. For one bottle of yellow mustard, add one cup of Hennessy, and 1.5 tbsp of honey


These all were simple to make and dee-lish! We intentionally wanted to have plenty of bread options (for dinner as well as dessert), in order to delight in the cognacs responsibly.



For desserts, we wanted to have as decadent of a finish to our evening as we started, and served:

Amaretto Cupcakes

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes

Honey Whiskey & Orange Creme Brûlée Spoons

Ferrero Rocher Hazelnut Chocolates



The Amaretto Cupcakes were provided by one of the guests, who was gracious enough to share her recipe, and were delightful! Amaretto is for me the lighter and sweeter cousin to cognac, and pairs lovely with any cocktail. The recipe is easy to follow for even the most non-baking Bourgeois hostess like myself:






The Salted Caramel Cupcakes were phenomenal with the blend of salty and sweet, and were a lovely addition to such a decadent night. Courtesy of black owned bakery KD Konfections, these treats helped to elevate the event and allow for a lovely new experience for the guests.






The Honey Whiskey & Orange Creme Brûlée Spoons were also a crowd fave, and a simple variation from our Butter Pecan Creme Brûlée, with the recipe featured from our Burnout issue. We simply added a cap full of the Wild Turkey Honey Whiskey and a splash of orange extract, and filled tasting spoons rather than ramekins. The benefit is that these have a shorter cook time with the smaller serving (baked for about 20-25 minutes), and of course we recommend preparing the night before the event so they can firm overnight, but if you’re pressed for time, allow at minimum an hour to rest in the fridge before serving.







To enjoy with their cognacs, we also included a Cigar Bar. The venue had a wall of windows that gave view to the outdoor patio and guests were able to indulge in cigars with their cocktails. I found some great, inexpensive cigar options from Total Wine, and purchased enough so that each guest could pair one with their drinks at their leisure. From there I picked up some match boxes (complimentary), and paired with a cigar cutter and everyone was good to go! For decor I hand painted the “Cigar Bar” sign for a friend’s event and she graciously let me borrow it for the tasting. Paired with the mini gold candle fireplace, this was the perfect way to set the scene for this evening of excellence.



I’m so grateful for everyone that could participate and speak positivity over our lives. We matter, our voices matter, and we deserve to celebrate ourselves with no judgement of what we’re wearing, or our “tone”, or any other stereotype that gives the automatic right to our autonomy. We are Black excellence, no matter where we came from or who we are right now, and I will continue to celebrate us every chance I am afforded the opportunity. Abundance is our birthright, and we are living in it unapologetically.


Welcome to the Speakeasy…






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