Boulangerie Bleue Sydney: Grey Goose brings the French Riviera to Australia

Got a cheeky bottle of vodka lurking in the freezer? Chances are you're only masking the flavour of an inferior drop, says Grey Goose ambassador Joe McCanta.

"Don't ever freeze your vodka!" McCanta says emphatically. "Really good vodka should be the same temperature as Champagne, never any colder. What you do is ruin all those beautiful top notes until you're not able to smell or taste anything anymore. You just have the alcoholic hit, and it covers up a badly made vodka, and that's why a lot of people do it."

McCanta – an American-born, London-based former jazz musician-turned celebrity bartender – was recently in Australia for the final instalment of a series of international parties celebrating the prestige vodka brand.

The Boulangerie Bleue events bring an exclusive French Riviera vibe to different corners of the world via lavish bashes held in Ibiza, Montreal, Munich, Milan and the Hamptons.

"What we're trying to do is bring that joie de vivre of France that was happening in the '60s and '70s, captured by photographer Slim Aarons … We want these events to be audacious, and you walk out of them and think 'nobody could do that but Grey Goose'."

James Bond got it wrong, martinis should always be stirred, not shaken.

Joe McCanta

Martini manor

Previous Boulangerie Bleue parties have included a rooftop bash on New York's Lower East Side and a wild three-storey bar constructed in an unassuming building on London's Shaftesbury Avenue.

Last week it was Sydney's turn to host, with three days of events held on the lush grounds of Tresco, a private mansion overlooking Elizabeth Bay.

"To be honest this is the best location that we've done these events in," says McCanta. "This house is incredible, and the weather is cooperating and the whole bit."

The sandstone residence was built in 1868, making it one one of the oldest residences in Sydney, and sits high on a cliff in the shade of a mammoth Moreton Bay tree, with tiered gardens spilling down to a rugged ocean pool and private dock.

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Stirred, not shaken

Amid manicured lawns and vine-fringed pergolas, a team of top bartenders poured cocktails for the invited guests.

The event's signature drink was Le Grand Fizz (Grey Goose with fresh lime, soda, and St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur) but there were also plenty of martinis stirred over ice with vermouth. 

"James Bond got it wrong, martinis should always be stirred, not shaken," explains McCanta. "If you shake a martini, initially it's going to be way, way colder [than it should be] … But the shaken martini gets up to room temperature faster because of the ice crystals diluting it."

So why is it 007s drink of choice? "Bond never has more than a few seconds before he's downed his martini, and he's off killing someone or sleeping with someone. If that's the case, by all means shake your martini, but most of us want to sip it."

Golden Goose

With its established reputation and luxe appeal, you might think Grey Goose has been around for centuries: not so. It was conceived in 1996 specifically for the premium American market and sold to Bacardi for US$2.2 billion in 2004.

"Grey Goose is kind of the antithesis of that 'pure approach' to vodka making, like the Russian and the Scandinavian vodka, which is about [multiple] distillation. Grey Goose is distilled only once, and we use the softest type of filtration – polish filtering – so essentially all of the flavour of the wheat comes through … You should be able to taste the same notes as the bread made from the same wheat."

Unless, of course, you've put it in the freezer. 

The writer was a guest of Grey Goose.