Lucie Loves… Lifestyle // Ballet + Breakfast: A date to remember with Alfred Cointreau – #cointreaubloodorange
Even after 8 years in this blogging game, I still find myself amazed at some of the weird and wonderful scenarios I end up in. This is one of them; actually, make that two!
It’s 8:09am, I’m on a crowded Piccadilly line tube heading for breakfast with Alfred Cointreau. Yes, the name gives you a clue. Alfred is Cointreau’s Brand Heritage Manager, and a 6th generation member of the Cointreau family.
Nope, this is definitely not your standard Wednesday morning rendezvous.
My mouth is dry and my head throbs a little from last night’s Cointreau-laced post-ballet cocktails. Bloody hell! They were delicious. But you know what happens when you’re allowed to free pour spirits at the fancy DIY cocktail bar… things get a little crazy, and you forget that you’ll pay for it the next day. Oh London! A city of many a drunken opportunity!
Anyway, I’m looking forward to that first cup of coffee…
There’s three of us meeting Alfred Cointreau, great- great-grandson of Édouard Cointreau, at the luxury boutique Sanderson hotel, a couple of journos from fancy magazines and little old me. It’s my first time at the Sanderson, and it doesn’t fail to impress! I’m a sucker for a fancy hotel.
It’s been back-to-back blog events, of the Cointreau-imbued variety, this past 24 hours. The evening before saw us dressed up to the nines and whisked off to the Royal Opera House. As guests of La Maison Cointreau, we’d been invited to see a private ballet performance, by three of the Royal Opera House’s principle dancers.
On entering the Royal Opera House, you step inside the impressive red carpeted foyer, and make your way up the stairs, into the cavernous dining area. Necks-craned, you marvel at the multi-panelled glass ceiling, arching above, and take the escalator to the upper floor, where the vast rehearsal space awaits.
Cute bottle of Cointreau Fizz in hand, I take a seat on the far left of the benches, my eyes joining the hundreds of other pairs waiting to savour this dazzling spectacle before us. It’s such an intimate experiene. As far as brand partnerships go, Royal Opera House and Cointreau are like old friends. It’s the perfect match. They not only (almost) share birthdays, but a passion for the arts, history and culture too. The Cointreau family’s love of ballet goes way back, and their support of the arts continues to this very day.
Having never been to the Royal Opera House before, I was keen to accept the invitation, and tick another must-see London thing off my long list. (I still need to climb the roof of the O2!!). The evening was to celebrate the launch of Cointreau’s vibrant new “expression” – such a lovely choice of word, given this well-choreographed partnership – Cointreau Blood Orange.
“A remarkable interpretation, inspired by Cointreau’s house style - fusing authenticity, creativity, elegance and innovation. It’s a vivacious twist on the classic Cointreau signature, and has its roots in the century-old mastery of orange selection and the meticulous, in-house art of distillation”
After watching the dancers twist and turn their way through pieces from the latest production of George Balanchine’s Jewels – we sat through a short Q&A with the dancers and their teacher, before being shown through to another room. A room bathed in blood orange light and decorated with beautifully backlit bottles, and costumes from productions across the years. I had to ask if they were real tutus! The bodice’s were so incredibly intricate and doll-like in size.
So, still basking in the glow of the previous evening’s soiree, we sat down to breakfast with Alfred. It was a surprisingly informal, and intimate affair – perfect for storytelling and candid questions.
I wanted to know how Alfred sees the future of Cointreau. How does he plan to make any cut-through with millennials that are fixated on bourbon and vodka? Who does he want to drink it?
His answer: he wants to encourage people to “play” with Cointreau – to make it their own. To put their twist on it, mix it with whatever they feel like, and enjoy it! It’s not high-brow and exclusive in a way that some brands try to be. Cointreau Fizz was his baby – Instagramable? Hell yeah! But at the same time, still so damn classy, and a credit to the Cointreau brand.
Having worked in an archive before, and being a huge fan of old advertising posters, I was keen to hear about the Cointreau archive. There’s plans to renovate and create a museum that will pay homage to his ancestors, and the journey they took from confectionary to Cointreau.
We spoke about the significance of the orange. He smiled as he told us how his grandmother would still give each of them one, as a gift, at Christmas. Alfred told us about how, in historical times, to have an Orangery was a symbol of great wealth.
Despite being born into it, it wasn’t compulsory for him to join the Cointreau clan. He took a turn as green grocer and worked in advertising before finally deciding to join the family business, where he then worked his way up the ranks – trying his hand in every department. His face lit up as he shared a photo of his young daughter, and spoke of his move from Paris, back to the family home in Angers, where they still entertain family and friends with their favourite Cointreau cocktails.
A fellow Wanderlust fan, Alfred has some exciting travel plans coming up for communicating the Cointreau lifestyle, and I can’t wait to read all about them and devour the pics, as he breathes new life and a fresh perspective into this heritage brand.
I left that breakfast with a newfound appreciation for a 150 year old spirit, and a thirst to find out more about their charity, the 1 Orange 1 Tree project that they support in Senegal. Thank you, Alfred.
Photography © Lucie Kerley (except photo of Cointreau bottles)
Find out more about Cointreau’s charity work at 1orange1tree.com