I spent £28 on a rosé cocktail in Cannes as part of a film festival tradition
I’m sitting at a hotel bar in Cannes sipping – very slowly – on a €32 (£28) champagne and rosé cocktail, as you do.
Well, apparently as one does when one is in Cannes because normally I baulk at any cocktail over £15.
However, I’m here at one of the most iconic spots on the Croisette, the beachfront road in the French Riviera city that’s home to the world’s most glamorous film festival – and this, I’ve been told by industry word-of-mouth, is the thing to be done.
Cannes is still in the thick of its France-meets-Hollywood annual celebrations, with the festival – which has so far premiered Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, controversially explicit show The Idol from The Weeknd and Johnny Depp’s comeback film Jeanne du Barry – set to close on Saturday night.
With some of the most famous people in the world, from Leonardo DiCaprio to Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson and Jude Law, all descending on this little strip of seaside, it is perhaps unsurprising that Cannes is home to some pretty swanky hotels.
They all line-up next to each other, interspersed with the odd luxury designer boutique, facing the Mediterranean Sea.
You’ve got the Hotel Martinez, where I almost walked directly into Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the Hotel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes and the JW Marriott Cannes.
However, perhaps the most iconic of all is the Carlton Cannes, a monument to Belle Époque extravagance first built in 1911. It reopened again after two and a half years of renovation work in March, just in time to stuff itself to the gills with celebrities during the film festival.
The Carlton Cannes has quite the reputation for being the place to come and drink, schmooze and socialise.
It’s also made its mark in pop culture too as a major filming location for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 thriller To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Sir Elton John’s hit song I’m Still Standing shot its music video here too.
And why the €32 cocktail? Rosé is unequivocally the wine of Cannes, located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, which makes some of the best in the world. Champagne is clearly the other drink of the film festival too!
However, as I head into the hotel with my sights set on the signature drink, it’s pretty hard going. Thursday is the evening of the amfAR fundraising gala, the glitziest night of the film festival (and that is saying something).
It’s a battle through Bentleys in the forecourt and then ball gowns in the lobby as attendees all pose for pictures taken by their entourage – and you know you’re in the big league when everyone’s Instagram photographer is decked out with professional equipment including lights.
Planning to casually pounce on a table on the outside terrace takes me longer than I’d like, and eventually I have to plump for a table inside unless I want to wait all night. I order the Champagne and Rosé Only cocktail at €32, as recommended.
‘Good choice,’ the barman assures me, adding: ‘A ladies’ cocktail.’ (We’ll unpack that later.)
The bar is a little devoid of celebrity action, but I see another person making the same cocktail choice as me, and moments later it becomes evident I’m sitting next to the team of a British supermodel, who are poring over the shots they took of her pre-gala and debating which ones to post of her in a blue-green dress (spoiler: she looks amazing in all of them, almost like she professionally poses or something).
When my drink arrives, it’s accompanied by a generous bowl of nuts as well as vegetable crisps,. Those I scoff down as elegantly as possible as this is a pre-dinner aperitif on a day when I didn’t manage lunch.
I must say, this is one of the best cocktails I have ever had, refreshing, sweet and delicious. It comes garnished with a little floating flower and half of its rim glazed with sugar, in case I was needing something even sweeter.
A perfect blend of its ingredients of Moët & Chandon Brut SA champagne, Miraval rosé wine, jasmine syrup and Peychaud’s bitters, nevertheless I don’t think I could manage more than one of these. Much to the relief of my wallet.
Yes, €32 is a lot of money, but I’m satisfied by what I got. Surprisingly, the two rosé wines on the drinks menu clock in at a very reasonable €15 and €12 – although to put it into perspective, I was charged €4 the previous night for a glass of house rosé wine in a small local bistro.
They also, of course, have what claims to be the world’s best-selling rosé on the menu too, Provence-style Whispering Angel, although with prices nestling upsettingly in three figures, my eyes slid quickly past.
Glancing over the soft drinks section is where I do a double-take, seeing the standard Coca-Cola products on offer at an obscene €14.
Would I venture again to the Carlton Cannes to drop €32 on a cocktail? Maybe, if I picked one special evening the next time I come to the film festival.
The drink was good enough and the atmosphere and surroundings intriguing enough that I don’t feel too unwell at the thought.
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