Jean-Michel Cochet: Chili Crabs Go Well With X.O

Have you noticed a difference in attitudes and the way cognac is consumed by different Asian cultures?
In places such as China, I find it interesting how they’ve adopted the practice of enjoying cognac with their own food, much like their own heritage of baijiu. They’re slowly starting to move away from the Chinese culture of banquet style downing, especially in places like cosmopolitan Shanghai. But it’s still a process that’s going to take time. Singapore’s already a more sophisticated market that appreciates the finer things in life.
The concept of food and alcohol pairings has become especially popular. Any advice about matching cognac with Asian food?
I’m a big fan of Singapore chili crab. In fact, we had it with X.O on the rocks and it went beautifully. But with something like Cantonese food that has lighter flavors, V.S.O.P would go better. As a rule of thumb, I’d say X.O is the more versatile option. So if in doubt, you can try that. Look for a complex, smooth flavor that’s characterized by harmony and elegance. But it’s a never ending exploration, so just keep trying and see what you like.
Do you think cognac still suffers from the perception that it’s more to the taste of an older clientele?
The only thing I can say is, as a mature gentleman, I prefer cognac served in the more traditional way. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good cocktail every so often. But Hennessey’s Art of Mixing is about updating the way cognac is viewed. Each new recipe was crafted by a team of mixologists, and then it was taste tested by a committee and the master blender himself, incorporating flavors such as ginger, citrus, apple or berry into it. The history of cocktails, like cognac, dates back years, but that doesn’t make it exclusive to a certain age group.
The Hennessey Ginger – Fresh Start , Jean-Michel Cochet: Chili Crabs Go Well With X.O
We reckon this is a great cocktail for the festive season, or whenever, frankly.
What you need:

  • 45ml Hennessey
  • 15ml lime juice
  • 7.5ml simple syrup
  • Three fresh mint leaves
  • 105ml ginger ale
  • Crushed ice


  1. Half fill a highball glass with crushed ice.
  2. Pour in spirits and mint leaves, stir carefully until mixed.
  3. Top with more crushed ice (if necessary) and garnish with a mint sprig.