Luke Blackall: Hotfooting it to the launch of... an ice bucket
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The addresses sound more refined, the waiters more polished and the crowd are infinitely better dressed. And it goes without saying that the food and drink are a step up.
How could an invitation to a "cocktail dinatoire" be refused (even if I wasn't sure exactly what it meant)?
So I jumped on the Eurostar, from where I write this. The occasion was the launch of an ice bucket. Not just any ice bucket, you understand, but a special new one for the Champagne house Ruinart.
Designed by artist and designer Hervé van der Straeten (pictured) it costs more than a couple of cases of the champagne designed to go inside it. Such a launch is not as unlikely as it sounds. In fact, in the world of high end drinks, it is quite normal.
Many of these brands don't advertise and so they throw parties and tie-ins with either creative people or sports events to build up awareness. Over the years I've gone to launches of stoppers, of new labels and even the launch of a knife used to carve ice for vodka cocktails.
All too often at London parties, it seems that the numbers are made up by thirsty young liggers, who are brought in from the East End to make the event look as young and trendy as possible. On Thursday night in Paris, they showed how it could be done in style, the beau monde making us English visitors feel positively arriviste.
Those who organise parties either side of the Channel talk about how they have to search out different crowds. For example, journalists at some of the fashionable publications in Paris make for a hip, stylish crowd. In the UK, they look like the badly-dressed free-loading hacks that they are.
So for a night it was nice to try to blend in and see how the other half live. And after all that exertion, we headed to the Plaza Athénée for a well-earned nightcap. There, a dimly lit modern bar sits in one of the most classic hotels in town, a favourite among le bon ton. Yes, we might have menus-on-iPads and special ice cubes with lights in, in the UK, but in France they just seemed that much smarter. As you can tell, I was completely séduisé by the whole place.
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