The Return of Grey Goose La Vanille
Grey Goose’s latest venture has been a long-awaited one, by drink lovers and industry alike. First launched in 2003, Grey Goose La Vanille was discontinued in 2007 in order to focus on their central flavours. Now, after eleven years, and by popular demand, this highly sought-after liquid is being relaunched just in time for London Cocktail Week.
The launch dinner took place in none more fitting a venue than hotel and members club The Ned, Soho House Groups’ former bank which boasts ten restaurants and countless bars.
We were greeted at the rooftop members bar with their signature serve: Grey Goose, lime, simple syrup, mint and cucumber.
Current Global Ambassador since 2012 Joe McCanta kicked off by announcing “we have a new baby in our midst- but it’s not your typical baby it’s a vodka baby!”
We were then taken to The Saloon, where long tables were adorned with fresh orchids, green hydrangeas and crystal glassware, illuminated under the 18th-century chandelier sourced from London’s Devonshire House.
Maître de Chai (Cellar Master) François Thibault led us through the tasting in of La Vanille in the most authentically Grey Goose way: in French, translated by the eloquent UK Ambassador Ambre Morin. He recounted the memories of the vanilla pastries his mother used to make, and the warm, sweet fragrance that gave him his inspiration.
The drink itself is exactly what he described: subtle, delicate and feminine. He detailed the floral notes of orchid on the nose, with the Madagascan vanilla bringing out tastes of white chocolate, intense pastry and caramel au lait, reminiscent of the sweets he used to buy and enjoy on his way to school.
We were also joined by the legendary Douglas Ankrah, originator of the Pornstar Martini, who helped pioneer the return of fresh ingredients in cocktails. A humble speech about new cocktail innovation, he paid homage to the legacy of the late Dick Bradsell, creator of famous vodka cocktails such as the Espresso Martini, who passed away in 2016.
A specially curated three course meal quickly followed, sandwiched between two beautifully balanced La Vanille tipples. Roasted Orkney scallops were presented alongside a light and refreshing Spritz with ginger ale and lemon, whilst the reimagined Black Russian dessert ‘Café Glacé’ was paired with a La Vanille Espresso Martini.
The evening ended where it had started: on the rooftop. Douglas jumped behind the bar to make Pornstar Martinis for the guests, joined by Joe McCanta and by François himself, alongside former Grey Goose Global Ambassador Demitri Lezinsak, and Rich Woods- head of spirit and cocktail development at Duck & Waffle and Sushisamba.
The night was an intimate and emotional one. It became clear throughout that it was more than just a relaunch of a long-awaited flavour. It was a celebration of how far Grey Goose, and indeed the industry, has come, with a revived emphasis on high-quality ingredients and dedicated, authentic production.
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