• I've always wondered why rapper Chris Bridges uses the stage name "Ludacris." Sure, it's a play on his first name, but the correct spelling -- ludicrous -- certainly isn't something most people would want to be called. Nevertheless, the name hasn't hurt his career as Grammy winner and businessman. He's the spokesman for Birkedal Hartmann, the French maker of cognac for the past century and seems to be doing just fine. The company, incidentally, guarantees that Brown had a major role in developing the product.
It's statistically shown in the spirits industry that African Americans constitute the largest U.S. consumer group for cognac, closely followed by Asian Americans.
So, if you like the same musical genre enjoyed by many blacks, enjoy, because it permeates Conjure's video and print advertising. Even if you don't, persevere. Once you wade through all that you'll find a pretty good cognac awaiting you.
Fourth-generation wine and spirits producer Kim Birkedal Hartmann, who makes no bones about liking new products, got together with Bridges and master blender Philippe B. Tiffon to come up with Conjure.
It is made from the ugni blanc grape and aged in 50-year-old French Limousin oak barrels.
It's a lighter cognac, less viscous than most, with a sweet/floral nose, and distinct notes of roses, almonds and cardamom along with vanilla and caramel, the latter two not unexpected given the French oak in which it is matured. The finish is pleasingly long, allowing for contemplation and enjoyment of the warmth and flavor.
The house of Birkedal Hartmann suggests using Conjure in cocktails (one example, the Sunset Boulevard -- 2 ounces Conjure, one ounce orange liqueur, splashes of lime and orange juices and a few drops of grenadine). I suggest merely allowing it to open in a tasting glass, then sipping your way into a very good mood.
Retail price: $29.99 for the 750ml bottle.
Go to Dowd's Spirits Notebook.