A few weeks back, LA Cocktails posted about the planned arrival of La Maison Cointreau in Los Angeles. Having an insatiable want to understand the insides-and-outs of the liquor industry and of individual products, specifically, I had to attend. Besides, as LA Cocktails said:
What’s going to be really cool is Cointreau has scanned almost 300 old cocktail books that will exhibited. I’d be excited to find the oldest recipe for a Sidecar! After exploring the books, you’ll get a hands-on mixology lesson with brand ambassador Kyle Ford. Afterwards, you’ll be invited for “feasting and dancing.” It sounds like a fun night and I’ll see you there.
I mean, really, how could I not? The event was free for peat’s sake! A Cointreau-hosted event with a serious eye for detail that played right into mine and Ali’s wheelhouse. The photos are not extravagant, we were working quickly and sans SLR camera. This worked out fine, despite Ali’s bitter regret when she saw the venue and opportunity for amazing photos, it meant my girlfriend was able to focus on the other offerings of the evening and her attention was directed where Cointreau (and I) loved it to be… on the event.
When we arrived at the Carondelet House near Downtown LA, we were brought into the main foyer; a gorgeous passageway through a carriage-house style entrance with two rooms on either side. After quaffing a Cointreau and lime while awaiting our tour, we were led into the first exhibition of the evening–a presentation on the history of Cointreau. Here we met Alfred Cointreau: an attractive, debonnaire, thickly-accented, twenty-something master distiller and sixth-generation heir to the Cointreau brand. I held Ali a little tighter. He was an engaging lad as he walked us through the history of the Cointreau family, his earliest forays in cocktailing (age 6, of course), the evolution of the branding and Cointreau’s place in mixological history. What I didn’t know is that triple sec, which Cointreau was originally branded, is a term for a dry liqueur that is triple distilled (sec is French for dry). Cointreau dropped the term “triple sec” from their bottles when it became a misnomer due to increased market competition producing highly-sweetened “triple secs.” Cointreau has allegedly never changed their recipe, which is believable given the high-quality of the liqueur and retention of ownership through the Remy-Cointreau brand.
Next, we were brought into the belly of the house and entered a room full of goodies to make your own Cointreau cocktail! Sweet! Cointreau resident-mixologist and brand ambassador Kyle Ford, presiding (and sporting his best Movember). With a rustic table full of fresh fruits, herbs, juices and Perrier; we were encouraged to “get crazy” as we muddled, spiked, stirred and swilled our libations in the good company of like-minded Angelinos.
Finally, we were led into a small courtyard and the back of the house where more cocktails were served and performances were rendered. Here we indulged in some Cointreau, lime and grapefruit, and Cointreau Noir and sweet tea cocktails (delish!). Inside, the spectral accordionista and songbird, Nicole Renaud, serenaded us in her French soprano, and the talented Jonny Rodgers awed with ethereal songs on the wine glasses. We were transported to Paris in a way that only hurt to know we weren’t actually there! What a tease–we love Paris!
We sipped more cocktails, performed a photo session in a small room of wood, stone, fire, leather and taxidermy that had me feeling right at home, made new friends and lingered a bit as guests of Cointreau in this marvelous and fun evening. While the first room was rushed and we were not able to really explore the library of century-old, cocktail books or sip on Sidecars; the evening was a bit of French magic in Downtown LA and one that’s moved Cointreau to the forefront of my mind.
Dear Cointreau, success. You have new fans. With regards, Michael and Ali.
For those of you in San Francisco, La Maison Cointreau will make its final stops on November 13, 14 and 15th. Go here to RSVP!