I didn’t look into it. I didn’t ask questions. All I knew was that the invite said “penthouse loft at The Joule,” and I was in. I had never been above the hotel’s lobby.
So when I walked into the 10th floor suite last night for a cocktail party hosted by Christen and Derek Wilson and Louis XIII to celebrate the movie 100 Years (directed by Robert Rodriguez and starring John Malkovich), I expected to see couches and a big screen. Instead, the room was outfitted with marble and mirrors, and a few dozen people holding champagne glasses. Bottles of Louis XIII Cognac glowed in display cases.
My wingwoman for the evening was Anastasia Munoz, a beautiful actress who is otherwise busy with the unglamorous-yet-noble task of transforming a 1929 Oak Cliff church into an arts space. We sipped bubbly as the PR firm sent one beautiful person after another to speak with us. A VP here, a Director of Branding there. I could hardly make out words through their thick Parisian accents.
The tricky part about doing PR for a legendary liquor brand, as one rep told me, is that they don’t have new lines coming out every season like fashion. Louis XIII Cognac takes 100 years to age. The experts crafting each batch will never get to taste the fruits of their labor. That’s why it goes for anywhere from $150 to $250 a shot. Essentially, the branding team has to create excitement over the same product for eternity. Commissioning a film that stirs up publicity is one way to do it.
I soon realized we weren’t going to see a screening, but a preview of the movie. I should have been tipped off by the subtitle: “The Movie You Will Never See.” The film is kept in a custom safe that weighs 800 pounds. Dallas was one of its last stops on a world tour before it heads back to a cellar in Cognac, France. The film will be released in 2115, along with bottles that began aging in 2015.
Though we never got to see the flick, we did get a taste of the oft-rapped-about Louis. After the 3-minute preview—flashes of neon lights, flying vehicles, and all-black costumes—the brand’s VP of the Americas, a silver fox named Yves De Launay, sent out flutes of half-ounces and called for a toast.
I’d make a fool of myself if I attempted to comment on the flavor of my first sip. My palate is completely unsophisticated. I didn’t start drinking hard liquor until after I had my three-year-old and craved something stronger than an IPA to cap my exhausting nights. And though the cognac’s makers may disagree with me, it’s not all about the taste anyway. The allure of luxury spirits is more about the idea that we are drinking something very, very expensive.
What I can say is that the Louis XIII went down smooth. Anastasia, who said she didn’t care for cognac earlier in the evening, grabbed a second glass that a fashion blogger left untouched on an end table. I gave her a look.
“Well, when you bring a pauper to a princess party,” she said, before taking a $100 swig.