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The Place: Cognac, France
The Poison: Cognac is distilled from white wine and then aged in oak casks. It's also the favored drink of many Bond villains.
The Buzz: Two and a half hours by train from Paris in the southwest of France, Cognac has a timeless feel—must be those stone houses and rolling vineyards. No wonder the locals call themselves cagouillards—"snails."
Down the Hatch: As the name implies, Cognac is the home of all Cognac houses, everything from Courvoisier and Rémy Martin to small-scale, premium brands like Léopold Gourmel. The distillery has been around since the 1970s and ages its product in barrels made from ancient oak trees. You can tour the distillery without an appointment, or call a week in advance for tastings. You'll also learn the differences among the young fruity Cognacs (XO) and the warmer, muskier 20-year-plus-aged Très Vieux. Their most popular Cognac is the Age des Fleurs (Extra), which works best after rich meals of red meat and red wine.
Sleep It Off: The Château de l'Yeuse is a 24-room hotel set in a 19th-century manor house on the Charente riverbanks. Many of the bedrooms are explosively colored in vibrant reds or purples and have lots of windows to let in the sun. There's also a large pool and hot tub, as well as a steam room and sauna to sweat out any impurities imbibed while trying out the restaurant's abundant Cognac selection.
Drink at Home: Gourmel Age des Fleurs (Extra), with a bit of cinnamon and a lingering honeysuckle ($80).
Tel: 33 545 83 7660
Château de l'Yeuse
Tel: 33 545 36 8260
Doubles from $125