Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Perfect Garnish

Grey Goose Cocktails Gussied Up By Bentley of Beverly Hills

I just love a party featuring multiple layers of luxury. The “coming out party” for Bentley’s new Continental Flying Spur and its revved up twin, the Continental Flying Spur Speed was exactly that. Who knew that the parking lot of a car dealership could become a fancy affair?

The never-ending flow of tray-passed hors d’oeuvres didn’t let up for a minute. Little skewers of steak, chicken and shrimp, each with their own dipping sauces; smoked gouda and apple pizza; spring rolls; Thai cups; spicy Mexican bites; and more, floated under our noses by a fleet of models-for-hire. Massages were given in one corner of the party, and makeovers in another. And, we were offered more hand-rolled cigars than we could smoke in a lifetime.

And, don’t get me started on the eye-candy. No, I’m not talking about the monstrous disasters just back from the plastic surgeon. I’m talking about the cars. Sparkling hunks of polished metal with chrome and shiny wood stood proudly peering out at us, mere mortals, mocking our desirous stares.

However, I’ll be honest about my main motivation for driving my little American-made, 5 year old chariot into the 90210… I went to check out the cocktails. I was interested to see what would be served at the launch party for the most luxurious new car gracing our streets.

Cars are a big deal in L.A. Angelenos spend a lot of time in them, measure one another by them, and buy ones they can’t afford. With valets at banks, gyms, shopping malls and, oh yeah, restaurants, our cars are our most obtrusive
accessory. They say something about the way we see ourselves. And, nothing yells, “Hey everyone, I’m really well-to-do!” louder than a Bentley.

I’m not necessarily a fan of “new money.” Gaudy, rude, unsophisticated spoiled brats with chips on their shoulders are a-plenty in this town. They usually travel the Gucci- and Prada-lined streets in Hummers, tool through Santa Monica in bright yellow Ferraris, speed around the hills in a red Maserati or hit Hollywood in a black, tinted-window Escalade with spinning rims. Occasionally, one may try to “make a statement” with an eco-friendly, affordable Prius, or some such
nonsense, which is the worst because there’s nothing worse than a self-righteous “nouveau riche.”

I do, however, enjoy seeing “old money” roll by in a Rolls Royce – or even better – sitting in the back of one as the chauffeur maneuvers the road. L.A. is a sun-shiny, youth-oriented, pop-culture bubble. It’s nice to see flickers of the glamour of yesteryear.

So, when I got an invitation to this exclusive Bentley event, I admit that I was curious. What kind of people would be there – and what would they drink to toast their favorite new set of wheels?

Christophe Namer, the charming Frenchman who oversees Grey Goose vodka on the West Coast answered that question quite deliciously. There were four signature cocktails presented at the event, and everybody had a drink in their hand. Of those presented, my favorite was the delightful Pear Flower. Slightly sweet, citrusy enough to be refreshing – it had some zip and zing and a soft finish. And, I’m going to share it with you:

2 1/2 ounces GREY GOOSE® La Poire
1/2 ounce premium elderflower liqueur
2 1/2 ounces fresh squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Garnish with an edible flower

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain cocktail into martini glass. Garnish with an edible flower.

Christophe also pulled a little Molecular Mixology out of his beret and presented four kinds of Grey Goose jellies on a silver tray. One of them featured caviar embedded within and another had chocolate and truffle. Truly French… totally gourmet.

A cool evening breeze blew as stilettos clicked across the parking lot beneath a din of satisfied party guests’ chattering. Claire and I gaily popped alcohol-laced jellies into our mouths and hob-nobbed with the upper crust, and it almost didn’t seem odd that we were lounging on plush sofas upon asphalt.

We felt quite at home until it was time to leave, and nearly every car retrieved at the valets stand was, indeed, a Bentley. Or, an Aston Martin. Hell, the crappiest one was a 2-year old Mercedes. Claire called it “character building” as my lil’ Dodge made its way toward the nappy crowd, and we had to laugh. For some guests, the Grey Goose drinks were mere enhancements for the party. For me, the party, and their beautiful Bentleys, were the perfect garnish for the cocktails.

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