Recently Courvoisier took three bartenders to France for a surprise competition and some Parisian adventures.
The Here’s To Now campaign is all about spontaneity and living in the moment, which led to three bartenders and 60 consumers standing at St Pancras station clutching return tickets to Paris with no idea what the 24 hours ahead had in store.
The three bartenders in question were drinks expert Esther Medina Cuesta, Francesco Turrini from Lanes of London and Andrej Licko of The Paramount. They knew a challenge was on the horizon but what the challenge was remained a mystery and as we boarded our own carriage of the Eurostar and tucked into some lovely Courvoisier cocktails knocked up by the man of a thousand shoes, Mixxit’s David Miles.
The Right Place
Paris is famous around the world as a beautiful, romantic and cultural mecca and over recent years it’s bar scene has grown to provide millions of visitors with some superb places to grab a fantastic cocktail. As such it was the ideal spot for our night of adventures.
The fun started at a bar called La Vue, and even those of you whose French is as bad as ours will be able to figure out what this bar is famous for. Towering over the streets below we were treated to views of the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, in fact so impressive was the vista that the cameras came out before drinks were even in hand.
After a quick detour to drop bags off at the hotel the evenings jollity began at a rather grand residence in the heart of Paris, a residence, it transpired that had once been Napoleon’s home. The rooms felt perfectly in fitting with the history of the 200 year old Courvoisier brand which everyone was happily sipping away on.
Rebacca Asseline the Courvoisier Brand Ambassador was joined by special guest, Courvoisier Master Blender Patrice Pinet for an entertaining and fascinating tasting and talk, which culminated in the opening and tasting of a very rare and unique expression of the brand.
The Right Glass
It was at this point that the bartenders had to do battle for the chance to win a trip to Jarnac in France, the home of Courvoisier. In front of the 60 consumers who had won a place on the trip through a partnership with app TPlan, all three had to create a sharing punch using Courvoisier and a host of other ingredients on offer.
Joining BarLifeUK on the judging panel were David and Patrice along with Imbibes Clinton Cawood and Bar Magazines Mark Ludmon. We were treated to a full day of drinking in punch form, with breakfast, afternoon and evening drinks being produced. However in the end it was Paramount’s Andrej Licko who took out the top spot with this corker:
- 50ml Courvoisier VSOP
- 20ml lemon juice
- 10ml honey water
- 10ml elderflower cordial
- 10ml Earl Grey tea
- 75ml apple juice
- 5 to 7 dashes Angostura Bitters
(measurements are per serving)
Combine ingredients and serve in a punch bowl. Garnish with grated cinnamon, fresh lime, lemon and orange.
The Right Time
It was time to celebrate and the streets of Paris were awaiting us, unfortunately time had got away from us a little so some of the bars on our list (such as Candelaria, Little Red Door and Dirty Dicks) had to be saved for another day.
We started in one of the most iconic bars in Paris, if not the world, and walking into Harry’s was a real bar bucket list moment. The venue itself is a sea of wood and leather with the walls covered in pendants, pictures and plaques and you can feel the history of this century old venue.
Unfortunately as our group received their various cocktails from the list it became apparent that Harry’s appears to be living on its reputation and history rather than its drinks. A couple were okay, some were pretty bad and a few were undrinkable.
After one round was, mostly, dispatched of it was time to go and visit one of the bars which was at the forefront of the modern day bar scene in the French capital.
Those of you familiar with ECC in London are probably aware that this was preceded by its Paris sister (and now it has a brother in NYC), however stepping through the curtained door of ECC Paris we weren’t entirely convinced that they have a different dad.
London ECC is a bar that divides opinion amongst the trade, however no-one would go as far as to describe it as a party bar, as it turned out that is exactly what we walked into in Paris. The bar is dark, loud and full of energy, we were sold within seconds.
Beers and shots were served alongside superb cocktails and our group were quickly feeling very Gaelic. Who knows what time we would have left if the bar hadn’t run out of beer and had to adhere to those pesky closing time rules.
A Right Adventure
The following day saw everyone moving at a slightly more sedate pace and a long lunch was followed by some speedy shopping for folks back home before we had to admit defeat and head back to London.
Congratulations to Andrej on his win amongst such tough competition and thanks to everyone on the trip for making it such a fun and memorable 24 hours. Special thanks to the Courvoisier team for looking after us all so well and coming up with a unique take on the standard cocktail competition.