In the world of cool, only the Oscars can vie with the glamour of the Cannes Film Festival. Since 1956, Cannes’ Croisette has been host to legendary celebrity and mayhem. I should know: I’ve been clawing my way down that 2 km stretch of over-kerbed concrete for more than a decade, desperately fighting the crowds to get to a screening on time, watching films from the crack of dawn to the next crack of dawn. Cannes is hard work for film journalists and yet, I always wondered, was there a way to subtract the endless screenings and schlepping and just pack all the fun of the fest into 24 bulging hours.
Having supported the festival for the last six years, Chivas Regal made my dream come true by popping the question no girl could resist: ‘How would you like to walk up the red carpet looking FABULOUS?’
In this 24-hour dash, standard Cannes problems are dissolved: I am staying at the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez, a centrally located elegant base camp surrounded by fans at all times yet quiet, comfortable and private. I am in the professional hands of stylist Coco, aka Corinne Lucquiaud. We dine at the Martinez’s Michelin-starred restaurant La Palme D’or. The cocktails, naturally, feature Chivas Regal’s finest.
As a snob, I used to pooh-pooh blended whisky after I had a bad trip with some miniatures on the Caledonian Sleeper. This stint proved a hefty corrective. As HL Mencken said: ‘No married man is genuinely happy if he has to drink worse whisky than he used to drink when he was single.’ Chivas Regal is whisky for single people, married people, divorced people, and quite possibly people who are yet to be born. The product range includes the wildly globally popular 12-year-old blend and an 18-year-old created by Master Blender Colin Scott in 1997 to a new centerpiece, the exclusive Chivas Regal 25. This 25-year-old blend is an homage to the first-ever Chivas Regal originally shipped from Aberdeen to New York in 1909 to satisfy the palates of Americans who wanted the finest whiskies, who wanted them here and wanted them now.
Hair, makeup, wardrobe and accessories later, I am sipping something amazing from Waterford’s stunning Mixology champagne coupes. This is Escocia. Created specially for this year’s festival, it is Chivas 12 soaked with raisins, dry sherry, white grape juice, fruit and citrus essences and a shedload of bubbles served from a sealed champagne bottle. There were Morning Glory fizzes, but as they weren’t served in Waterford, I had a tiny snort and went back to the Escocias. If you’re drinking great liquor, Waterford fits your lips: it makes a huge difference.
Strangely enough, I could still feel my face as I swanned up the red carpet up to the Palais. Thank heavens for Coco’s superb styling. Not only was I shod in Gucci, flying on fruit and Chivas, but enraptured by my Sylvia Toledano minaudière, a jeweled evening bag of such beauty I looked at it more than I did the movie.
Back at the hotel, Chivas concoctions were paired with masterful food. The Speyside Export is beyond juicy – Chivas Brothers blend, raspberry, blackberry, beet and lime juice crossed with star anise and bay leaf syrup with water and Black Walnut Bitters. This is the kind of drink that makes you feel covetous, like Golum and his Precious ring. (Note: do not pronounce ‘anise’ like ‘anus’. No one laughs.) Le Canard (that means The Duck, you’ll be amazed to know) is made from pear and apricot essence, curaçao, orange oils and bitters with Oloroso sherry and fois gras-infused Chivas 18, just in case you have some of that lying around. One of the most intriguing was Smoke and Mirrors: Chivas 18, Dolan rouge, plum sake and Aperol. It’s like a recipe designed to use up all that weird booze you got for your birthday, only it tastes great. Developed at London’s Connaught, Chivas 12, black cardamon, yuzu, matcha, egg white sherry and Angostura zest–yes, the zest!–round up a very delicious Yuzu sour.
Certainly, Chivas’ range pairs beautifully with delectable food. It also goes very well with a tube of Pringles from the Martinez’s mini-bar, as I found out just before sweetly slumbering in my hotel room before reentering the 24/11 routine of Cannes glamour – this time aboard a gleaming yacht, then a helicopter back to Nice. A chopper is essential for Cannes. The only downside? Handing back the Sylvia Toledano minaudière because, you see, we’d fallen in love and had planned to elope.
And so I say to you, person with good taste in your mouth, that all the blended whiskies are not equal. I had one walk me down the red carpet to prove even the smuggest of us can, if drinking quality, repent and be a blendist.
LUSSO attended Cannes as a guest of Chivas Regal 25, official sponsor of the Cannes Film Festival for six years and this year’s sponsor of Finch and Partners Filmmaker Dinner and the premiere party for ‘The Rover’. www.chivas.com.