“The Heart of Cognac meets the Heart of London”
Rémy Martin’s very first pop-up Private Members Club opened for only two weeks between 25th November and 6th December at 19 Greek Street, Soho in London. This was a first for the brand and for Soho.
La Maison was set over four floors of the design gallery in the heart of Soho. The VSOP bar and lounge was on the 1st floor and the Cognathèque on the 2nd. This was a retail lounge where guests could sample and buy Rémy Martin cognacs (some very rare and limited editions) and also where the Opulence Revealed tasting took place with the magnificent aromatic table as its centrepiece. The floor above hosted ‘L’Atelier Rémy Martin’ that comprised two weeks of bespoke interactive workshops showcasing five of London’s most renowned talents. The chosen talents were artisanal luthier Luke Joseph Sharples, long-established Allen’s of Mayfair butcher, renowned milliner Noel Stewart, British fragrance institution Czech & Speake and highly regarded men’s grooming company Sharps Barbers. Finally, the XO bar and lounge was situated on the top floor, which had a fabulous custom-made Rémy Martin backlit bar from which the Rémy Martin XO cocktails were served.
The launch party for the opening of La Maison was fabulous. With a really great atmosphere at every level, it was buzzing and full of invited guests enjoying Rémy Martin cocktails and canapés. I had the pleasure in meeting all kinds of people, from London lifestyle magazine editors to two businessmen who love Rémy Martin so much that they would bath in it given half a chance! Of course, no exclusive launch party would be complete without some celebrities, which included the likes of Idris Elba, Yasmin Le Bon and Naomie Harris. On the 3rd floor Jack Guinness hosted the evening’s entertainment as DJ.
Every aspect of the Rémy Martin Private Members Club concept had been considered with the quality and finesse that the brand is renowned for. Partnering with five of the most expert and trendy barman in the world reflected perfectly the notion of only working with the very best. The exciting cocktail menu was designed exclusively for Rémy Martin by Agostino Perrone, Master Mixologist at The Connaught Bar; world champion mixologist Erik Lorincz from the American Bar at The Savoy; Alex Kratena from Artesian, Ladislav Piljar from Bam-Bou and Alastair Burgess from Happiness Forgets.
Rémy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish cocktails included ‘Baptiste’ (VSOP, Breton cider, lemon, maple syrup and orange); ‘Consequences’ (VSOP, sherry, aquavit, citrus and cedar wood); ‘Fleurissimo’ (VSOP, Peychaud’s bitters, violet and Champagne); ‘La Charente’ (VSOP Barolo Cocchi, creole bitters, genmeicha syrup, Suze); and ‘Pierrette’ (VSOP, Cointreau, Chartreuse jaune).
On the top floor, Rémy Martin XO cocktails created included ‘Old Fashioned Maison’ (XO, fig, Maison bitters, hazelnut and orange); ‘Side Car Excellence’ (XO, Cointreau Noir and lemon); ‘Midas Touch’ (XO Cointreau Noir, Lillet Blanc and jasmine); and ‘Le Centaure’ (XO, sweet vermouth, Campari, redcurrant, vanilla and clementine).
Every detail of La Maison reflected the ethos of bringing quality to the fore and the culinary element of the concept was certainly no exception. Esteemed chef Yotam Ottolenghi designed the menu, every bite of which was absolutely exquisite!
The canapés included seared tuna wrapped in panko and seaweed, served with coriander and maple sauce; grilled lamb cutlet with honey, mustard and rosemary sauce; and coriander and lime crusted tofu with chilli, lime and seaweed sauce. On the dessert menu there was baked chocolate and tahini tart with sesame brittle (particularly wonderful with Rémy Martin XO neat), Persian cake with Rémy Martin cherry and passion fruit meringue tart.
Having been cordially invited back for another evening at La Maison, I had the pleasure in interviewing Monsieur Augustin Depardon, Rémy Martin’s Executive Director.
So why did Rémy Martin choose London as their first city for this new concept? Firstly, London is the capital city in which many trends are set; even New York, Paris and Shanghai look first to London at what happens. The Private Members Club is also very unique to the United Kingdom in fact, and the perfect place for Rémy Martin to create a community and engage with its members at a much deeper level than ever before. Of course, it is also an important cognac market for Rémy Martin in Europe.
The concept was the brainchild of the newly created subsidiary Rémy Cointreau UK team. Rémy Martin makes cognac that it is all about the blend and the complexity of ingredients. This very mysterious blend of time, ageing, working with mother nature and the art of master blender results in so many different expressions and experiences of Rémy Martin cognacs; La Maison is a metaphor for all of this.
The Rémy Martin culture is all about passion, respecting nature, the soil, and their partners. By inviting talented craftsmen to reveal their expertise, heritage and know-how, simply blends the finest crafts that have complete synergy with the fine craftsmanship required to produce fantastic cognac. Looking at other talents makes the message more subtle, yet at the same time creates a much deeper experience.
Putting a spotlight on these talents puts a spotlight on Rémy Martin’s own values, expertise and the respect of tradition. Although nearly 300 years old, La Maison shows that the brand is certainly not dusty and knows just how to tap into contemporary consumer aspirations. It is a totally new way for Rémy Martin to tell the world who they are. They want their consumers to know more about their brand, products and world. They want to give us an in-depth experience about what Rémy Martin cognacs are all about; La Maison has so many dimensions that touch so many senses.
So, will there be another Rémy Martin pop-up Private Members Club in the future? Well, as Monsieur Depardon said, the pop-up concept has been viewed as a great success. When this is the case, why not deploy it elsewhere? No secrets given away though, so we’ll just have to wait and see if, where and when La Maison Rémy Martin pops up again.
– by Cognac-Expert’s Michelle Brachet