The spirit of Paris

Award-winning cognac Courvoisier® has been the spirit of choice in toasting celebratory moments in history for more than 200 years. Courvoisier’s legacy began when it was founded by two entrepreneurial visionaries in the 1800s, reaching its initial peak when it was celebrated during the French capital’s most exuberant of times – the Belle Époque.

Take the year 1889, when Paris welcomed the world to the Exposition Universelle, one of France’s greatest-ever celebrations, the pivotal moment of Paris’s golden age when the eyes of the world descended on the city and each day was even more astonishing than the last. And for all of those great celebrations, gala dinners and banquets, what else was suited to toast this extraordinary moment in Parisian history but fine cognac? And the finest was, of course, Courvoisier.

After all, Courvoisier was presented at the grand opening of the Eiffel Tower during the exposition, a monumental event at which some of history’s most iconic figures – kings and queens from around the world, famous inventors, artists and architects, and Gustave Eiffel himself – came together to enjoy a luxury banquet in the ultrafashionable restaurant that Eiffel and his team had installed on the tower’s second platform.

The tower was festooned with 10,000 gaslights adding to the magical atmosphere and in the glasses of the assembled dignitaries was a fittingly celebratory drink – Courvoisier, the fine cognac then well known as the official cognac of Napoleon’s imperial court, and which had won the wine and spirits gold medal at the 1867 Exposition Universelle. It was to do so again that very year.

The Exposition Universelle of 1889 was the most spectacular and exciting yet in a sequence of such fairs designed to showcase France’s tremendous achievements, not just in fine spirits but in the arts and sciences. These were achievements that people travelled from the far reaches of the world to witness.

A hundred years on from revolution, Paris was also the first capital city to be lit by gaslight, allowing its denizens to dance and party into the night. Never had the city seemed more cosmopolitan, more alive. The Art Nouveau style lent its languid grace to doorways and windows, restaurants such as Maxim’s, and Hector Guimard’s unmistakeable Metropolitain entrances.

Cognac is seen as the perfect cocktail spirit – luxurious, celebratory and with a wealth of history

A daring and bohemian way of life took hold, cabaret sprang up, and artists, writers and musicians thronged to the city. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a name synonymous with the age, became known for walking with a cane hollowed out to conceal a unique flask that could hold his favoured Courvoisier which, in turn, could be used to invent new cocktails during his famed Friday night parties.

You can still feel the influence of Paris’s last golden age whenever you raise a toast with a glass of Courvoisier. The cognac continues to capture that spirit of wonder, spectacle and splendour, adding an air of glamour and sophistication to any celebration.

Its beautiful new bottle takes inspiration from the golden age and in particular details inspired by the Parisian architecture of the era, including the unique perspective looking up through the steel structure of the Eiffel Tower, are gracefully intertwined on the new Courvoisier design. It offers a glimpse back into history, alongside a jubilant vision of modernity.

This new design coincides with a shift in modern imbibing that embodies the social and innovative atmosphere of the Paris golden age. Post-recession, drinkers are becoming much savvier regarding their drinks choice. Cognac is seen as the perfect cocktail spirit – luxurious, celebratory and with a wealth of history. Classic cocktails such as the Sidecar, Rendezvous and Champagne Cocktail are having a renaissance and giving drinkers a taste of cognac’s heritage.

The modern drinker thrives socially and wants this immersive, shareable experience. They are increasingly inquisitive and respectful of the process behind their drinks and lean towards spirits that can satisfy this demand. With its rich heritage, evocative design and perfect aromatic balance for classic cocktails, Courvoisier is the epitome of the modern luxury brand.

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