I don’t go to many press events. It’s not that I don’t like getting to taste new and interesting things, or check out restaurants before they open and to get a glimpse of what they’re going to do. But I prefer to go and have a relaxing time, and to enjoy and experience the place as a customer would. Another thing that’s challenging about press events is that they can sometimes be a scrum, as anywhere where there’s complimentary food or drink involved.
That happened to me when I attended a cocktail soirée at a very posh hotel. I was personally invited by the publicist and the bartender was quite well-known and quite competent. And as I found out when I arrived, also quite dashing.
I was fortunate to get seated at the bar purposely (I assumed) by someone at the hotel, so I would be able to get a good view of the action, and maybe take some nice pictures. Ten minutes passed while I timidly attempted to get the barman’s attention. (It’s a little awkward when drinks are on the house, to flag someone down to make you one.) While I was waiting, a magnificently arranged plate of bar food was set in front of me, which suddenly whisked away before I could get a taste and given to someone else at the other end of the bar, with no explanation. (Someone told me that when you turn sixty, you become invisible. But this was a couple of years ago, before I became a fantôme.)
As I fondled the barre d’énergie I sometimes carry around in my messenger bag for hunger pangs, I noticed servers circling the floor with sample-sized cocktails, so I gave up my coveted stool to try one. French servers can be remarkably adept at avoiding customers when they want to, and these folks were pros. Not being super aggressive, I wound my way toward the servers holding the trays laden with drinks so I could taste one.
Alas, I was no match for them as they all nimbly managed to elude me just as I got near to them. So I gave up and decided it was time to leave. I thought it would be polite to congratulate the bartender on his success (in France, leaving without saying goodbye is a no-no), but he was surrounded by a gaggle of women and I had little chance of getting closer than I was, so I split. As I was walking to the lobby of the hotel, a publicist sprinted toward me, asking if I had enjoyed myself.
I’m not really one to hold grudges…okay, wait, who am I kidding? I told her I was sorry not to be able to taste any of the drink and left to meet up with Romain for a hot bowl of ramen, a little steamed myself. Fortunately, there’s nothing that a bowl of noodles can’t iron out but I’m still irked by it and now are wary of those kinds of events. Before that, there was another incident where I was invited to a restaurant opening but almost refused entry at the door by the gruff publicist, who demanded to know what publication I was going to “place” my article” in. She grudgingly let me in, but I didn’t exactly feel welcome. (Why invite people if you don’t want them to come?)
Anyhow…before I left that hotel bar, one thing I saw that they were serving were Breakfast Martinis. It wasn’t morning, but I’m sure they get their name for a dab of orange marmalade added to the shaker. Fortunately, I have no gatekeepers at home, and it was a breeze to shake one up, and enjoy in the comfort of my own confines.