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The annual Festival de Cannes took place from May 14–25, and Belvedere Vodka was there for its seventh year. This year, the premium spirit brand worked with musical artist Theophilus London on “La Chambre Noir,” a specially designed space at the J.W. Marriott. Belvedere hosted a special brunch, Martini Master Class, and private dinner with a performance by Rita Ora between May 16 and 17.
Whitewall was lucky enough to be in Cannes for the special occasion, and had the chance to speak with Claire Smith, the head of Spirit Creation and Mixology for Belvedere. She talked to us about her start in cocktails and the versatility of vodka.
WHITEWALL: What first attracted you to cocktails and mixology?
CLAIRE SMITH: I think the sense of creativity. I started mixology in a time where there were lots of people breaking rules and taking inspiration from historical pieces of information, cocktail books, etc., but really reinventing the cocktail culture in the UK. It was a very exciting time to be getting into mixology. And I love flavors, a great combination.
WW: How does vodka compare to other spirits in a cocktail?
CS: It’s the best! It’s the chameleon of the spirit world and completely versatile. And for that reason it’s overlooked in favor of other spirits. But Belvedere is vodka with substance and the substance acts as a foundation. I like using vodka because it challenges me as a bartender. If I’m looking to make vodka the hero you have to be careful what you use but it gives me the flexibility to be very creative as well.
WW: What flavors do you think go best with vodka?
CS: Lots of spicy rich flavors are paired with it. You can have smoked fish or herring, those flavors work very well. Citrus flavors like grapefruit also work well. And refreshing flavors like cucumber.