I started the evening an amateur cognac lover; by the end, I could have taught lessons in it. A dinner at 34 on Grosvenor Square, hosted by Remy Martin, gave a taste of the masterclasses they will be offering at La Maison Rémy Martin, a four-storey private members’ club in Soho, launching 2 November.
As soon as we arrived, my handbag was replaced with a glass brimming with a gold-glinting cocktail, although perhaps one too strong for someone who has just stepped off the street. We were seated at a long table in the Emin Room, named for Tracey’s artwork on the walls.
The first course was the strong and citric Sidecar with Rémy Martin 1738, which accompanied creamy burrata and Camone tomatoes. The drink’s kick well recalled the motorcycle sidecar, owned by an American soldier in Paris during World War I, after which it is named.
John Dory (a frighteningly ugly fish when alive) came with fennel and small slow-cooked tomatoes, making it much more beautiful. The cocktail was mild with traces of sage, disguising the liquor in it. Also helping disguise the taste of the liquor was the speed at which the waiter cleared our largely-full glasses.
If we could have tasted it, they might have slowed down on the regular refreshing of our glasses – a gesture not thoroughly appreciated by some of the guests. One guest gave the wall a glassy stare, drink in hand, experiencing an epiphany of some sort.
Before dessert came a lecture on how to respectfully enjoy a glass of Remy Martin XO. Picture a stunning brunette crooning, ‘Hold it under your chin, smell the floral scent, then dive your nose into the strong fruity base.’ I tilted my glass for a sip, only to slide into a momentary sensation of being able to understand metaphysics. The steaming hot chocolate fondant brought me back to more physical sensations.
I have a faint memory of signing up for the club before leaving, and I hope I actually did. But if I didn’t, I blame the cognac.