Globally, cognac is dominated by the Big Four, but in the elite bar world it’s the Big Five. Pierre Ferrand has broken the dominance of the Hennessy/Rémy Martin/Martell/Courvoisier cartel and this year has even made a bid for the top.
It was close but in the end Hennessy takes top spot for an eighth successive year, showing its strength and depth across global markets. Its portfolio ranges from the affordable VS, for which the US is its stronghold, to luxury editions. Cumulatively, that’s 6m 9-litre cases a year – almost triple its nearest cognac competitor.
Our poll of 100 bars is just a snapshot of a complex picture so perhaps it’s best to broadly say Hennessy is more widespread in top bars, but Pierre Ferrand is growing in popularity in that those that stock it are more likely to have it as their house pour.
Looking at future lists, it may be that Pierre Ferrand breaks Hennessy’s stranglehold – it was named the trending cognac in twice as many bars as second-placed Rémy Martin.
It’s a little gap down to third in the best selling list, where Rémy Martin resides. The Rémy Cointreau-owned brand tends to go in for the more expensive styles (VSOP and above) so other than the occasional big-ticket pour, it’s less likely an ingredient in a cocktail.
Like most cognacs, the brand has hesitantly embraced the cocktail, and seems more interested in the balloon-glass on-trade or finding new drinkers in the off-trade with new serving rituals. Martell, in fourth, is back in growth in global markets, and is stable in our list, while Courvoisier is also frozen in fifth.
The Spanish Torres in sixth and Greek Metaxa in 10th are the only non-cognacs in this brandy list. When it comes to high-end bars, more often than not, brandy means cognac.
The Drinks International Annual Bar Report looks to gauge the buying habits of the best bars in the world by conducting a survey of their owners, head bartenders and bar managers.
The bars that took part – what we refer to as the best bars in the world – are a sample of 108 bars that finished in the top 250 places of the World’s 50 Best Bars survey, now owned by William Reed Business Media. Given the depth and scope of The World’s 50 Best Bars poll (voted for by 476 global bar experts) we feel this is the most credible place to source our sample of bars.
In each instance we asked the bartender to rank their three best selling products in each category, giving us an indication of the brands that are selling best.
As we know, a best selling brand, even in the best bars in the world, earns its place on more than taste, so we also wanted to know the brands that are not necessarily doing huge volumes but have cool-appeal right now. This is where the Trending brands come in. These are the brands customers are increasingly asking for, perhaps because of word of mouth, or even on bartenders’ recommendations.
For more on the methodology see How we did it